The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of workers’ disabilities. The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations -- changes to the workplace or job -- to allow employees with disabilities to do their jobs.
What's a Reasonable Accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability. Under the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. Qualified employees are those who hold the necessary degrees, skills, and experience for the job; and who can perform its essential functions, with or without an accommodation.
Who is an “individual with a disability?”
An individual meets the Americans with Disabilities with Act definition act of “disability” that would qualify them for reasonable accommodations if they have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (sometimes referred to in the regulations as an “actual disability”).” If a disability is not obvious to an employer, they can ask for medical documentation from a health care provider to confirm the need for an accommodation.
Individuals who solely are “regarded as” having a disability but do not have a disability, are not qualified to receive reasonable accommodations.
What types of employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers who have 15 or more employees are usually required to provide reasonable accommodations. Some state and local laws may require that employers with fewer employees provide reasonable accommodations.
Examples of accommodations include, but are not limited to:
- Provide reserved parking.
- Improve accessibility in a work area.
- Change the presentation of tests and training materials.
- Provide or adjust a product, equipment, or software.
- Allow a flexible work schedule.
- Provide an aid or a service to increase access.
- Reassign to a vacant position.
- Making existing facilities usable by disabled employees—for example, by modifying the height of desks and equipment, installing computer screen magnifiers, or installing telecommunications for Deaf people
- Restructuring jobs—for example, allowing a ten-hour/four-day workweek so that a worker can receive weekly medical treatments
- Modifying exams and training material—for example, allowing more time for taking an exam, or allowing it to be taken orally instead of in writing
- Providing a reasonable amount of additional unpaid leave for medical treatment
- Hiring readers or interpreters to assist an employee
- Providing temporary workplace specialists to assist in training, and
- Transferring an employee to the same job in another location to obtain better medical care
ADA National Network
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ADA Information Line