Asking For–And Getting–ADA Accommodations

 


As a working professional who relies on a paycheck to maintain their standard of living, you are likely well aware of the implications of an injury or permanent disability. Depending on the type of work that you do and the industry you are
 in, getting back to your normal daily activities may be a challenge. Thankfully, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects your rights as an employee with disabilities. The ADA emphasizes reasonable accommodations to facilitate your ability to perform essential job functions. However, the journey toward employer compliance can be complicated. It is important to explore avenues that uphold your rights and contribute to a positive work environment.

What Are “Reasonable Accommodations?”

The ADA was enacted in 1990 to address discrimination against individuals with disabilities and ensure their equal participation in various aspects of life, including employment. One of the ADA’s key provisions is the requirement for employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities. These accommodations are adjustments or modifications that enable you to perform your job duties without compromising essential functions.

Reasonable accommodations can take various forms, such as:

Flexible Work Arrangements: This could involve altered work hours, remote work options, or modified schedules to accommodate medical appointments or treatments.

Physical Modifications: Employers might need to make changes to your workspace or provide assistive devices to enhance mobility and accessibility.

Job Restructuring: In some cases, tasks or responsibilities can be reorganized to match the employee’s abilities while still fulfilling the core functions of the role.

You are not required to describe your disability or diagnoses with your employer, and they are not at liberty to question your need for accommodations. With the correct documentation, employers must follow through with reasonable accommodations. 

Striking the Right Balance: Undue Hardship

Although the ADA grants these important accommodations, not all employers can fulfill them without experiencing “undue hardship.” This generally comes into play when the provision of accommodations poses an excessive challenge for employers. What is considered “excessive” is subjective. A recent case exemplifies this conundrum. A delivery driver was injured due to suspension issues in his truck. In order to heal, the employee asked for a temporary reassignment to an office role or a delivery route that required a smaller truck. 

Unfortunately, the employer could not make these accommodations, as they could not control the large volume of packages–thus requiring a large truck–and there were no open positions at the offices within a 30-mile radius. The ultimate question is: How can an agreement be reached?

Advocating for Your Rights and Career

In this particular case, the employee was temporarily disabled. Out of respect for the employee’s needs and the ADA, both the employee and employer agreed on an unpaid leave of absence. Taking an unpaid leave of absence can decimate families financially. It is possible that in this case, the employee did not realize that exercising their right to unpaid leave would leave them financially vulnerable. The employee attempted to sue their employer for not providing reasonable accommodations. However, the court found the employer had done their part under the ADA.

If you are wondering how to avoid this situation, especially with a precedent such as this already set, there are ways to improve the outcome. If you are injured or disabled and require accommodation, before accepting the terms immediately, discuss the situation with an experienced disability discrimination attorney. At the firm of ​​Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C., we offer free initial consultations, so you have a better understanding of your legal rights and whether you need to take action. To discuss potential workplace discrimination claims or if you have questions regarding your rights under the ADA, call (844) 835-2993.

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