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Your rights regarding reasonable accommodations

A disability could put you at a disadvantage compared to your co-workers or fellow job applicants. The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees to level the playing field.

A reasonable accommodation is a relatively minor change that your employer can make so that you can perform your job adequately. While there are rare situations in which an employer can refuse to make a reasonable accommodation, he or she cannot just ignore your request.

What are examples of reasonable accommodations?

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a few examples of reasonable accommodations that you may request from your employer include:

  • Reassigning you to an equal position if you can no longer do your existing job
  • Modifying your schedule to work fewer hours, take more breaks, etc.
  • Providing more unpaid leave
  • Restructuring a job

How do you request reasonable accommodations?

There is no need for a formal process to request a reasonable accommodation. You do not need to make the request in writing or use any legal terminology. Your employer should reply promptly to your request and work with you to find accommodation that meets your needs.

Your employer does not need to provide you with the exact accommodation you request. However, he or she should provide one that is equally as effective.

When can an employer deny a request for a reasonable accommodation?

The law allows your employer to deny a reasonable accommodation if it would impose an undue hardship. In most cases, an undue hardship refers to an accommodation that would be too expensive for the employer to afford. Other examples of undue hardship include fundamentally altering the operation of the business or causing disruption to the other employees.

However, your employer cannot claim undue hardship for a reasonable accommodation based on its effect on the morale of the other employees, nor on the prejudices and fears of employees or customers. There is also no exemption from reasonable accommodation merely because your employer owns a small business.