In my last blog, I covered the bare bones of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a law that protects the rights of people with physical or mental impairments. Specifically, I discussed what qualifies as a disability, and whether your employer was beholden to the ADA or not. You can read the full blog for details, but to recap:
- Any physical or mental impairment that limits your ability in a major life area is considered a disability.
- You have rights under the ADA if you have a disability but are able and qualified to perform the essential functions of your job.
- If your employer has 15 or more employees for 20 weeks of the year, they are obligated to “reasonably accommodate” your disability.
“Reasonably accommodate” is the operative phrase there. What constitutes a reasonable accommodation?
According to the ADA, a reasonable accommodation is any measure that allows those with disabilities to have equal access and opportunities to employment. This could mean something as simple as adding a ramp or elevator to an office—it could mean altering the unpaid leave policy to allow an individual as much time off as they need without fear of termination.
People have the right to accommodations that serve 1 of these 3 functions:
- Create equal hiring opportunities during the application process
- Allow an individual with a disability to complete the essential duties of their role
- Ensure access to equal opportunities and benefits as current employees in similar roles
If you require an accommodation that serves the above functions, you have the right to receive one. The only requirement is that the accommodation not cause “undue hardship” on the business. Essentially, employers must do everything within their power to provide equal opportunities to qualified workers who have disabilities.
Ex. If an employee had an illness that required 30-minute breaks throughout the day due to nausea, his or her employer would have to allow it as long as she could still perform the job’s essential function. Even if that’s not possible, the business should consider another role for the worker rather than terminate him or her outright.
What Accommodations Actually Look Like
Essential duties is an important term here too. Companies are required to restructure job roles if a person with a disability cannot perform marginal duties; they can do this by either assigning marginal duties to other employees, or assigning alternate duties to the accommodated worker. They can also change how or when an essential job duty is fulfilled.
Accommodations can also take the form of:
- Changing the company’s paid leave policies
- Keeping their job available during extended absences
- Modifying a full-time or part-time schedule
- Reassigning an employee who cannot perform essential functions
If you’ve been denied accommodation for your disability, you may have the right to file a claim. As a Harvard-educated Los Angeles employment law attorney, I have the necessary skill to help you file a lawsuit and pursue justice against your employer. With 30+ years’ of experience and a commitment to getting results, you can rely on the law offices of Alan Burton Newman, PLC.
Contact my office today for a free consultation.