The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees with physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of their major life activities, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Employees with records of such impairments also qualify as having a disability, and may require reasonable accommodations in the workplace. But what is a reasonable accommodation in the first place, and are you, as an employer, required to give in to every demand made by your employee?
A Reasonable Accommodation Should Not Cause Undue Hardship
One of the stipulations of a reasonable accommodation is that it does not cause undue hardship on behalf of the employer. For example, a small business that has limited funds or is struggling to stay in the black might would most likely not be required under law to install an elevator to get to the second floor for an employee in a wheelchair. On the other hand, the same employer might be required to purchase computer software for a blind employee if it only amounted to a few hundred dollars. The funds allocated for reasonable accommodations are based on the employer’s ability to pay.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
According to the ADA National Network, the following are generally considered to be reasonable accommodations:
- Altering job duties;
- Providing alternate formats for communication. For example, instead of sending emails, talking to the employee in person;
- Providing a more flexible work schedule;
- Providing reserved parking;
- Allowing service animals in the workplace;
- Making the workplace more accessible;
- Providing a service or aide to increase access;
- Making accommodations for the presentation of training materials and job tests;
- Purchasing software or equipment; and
- Resigning the employee to a vacant position.
However, it should be noted that employers are not obligated to create new positions, transfer other employees out of their position, or terminate other employees in order to open up space for the impaired employee. Similarly, the employee should actually be qualified for the new position.
Your Business May Not Even Fall Under the Requirements of The ADA
Only employers with 15 or more employees are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As such, a claim against you may be valid based on the fact that you do not employee 15 or more people. Moreover, a contract worker hired to perform a specific job and then move on does not count as one of your employees. Often times, the plaintiff is mistaken about who is and who is not an employee, and overestimates the number of employees a company has on its payroll.
Call a West Palm Beach Employment Litigator Today
If you have been threatened to provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee, or have had a claim filed against you for refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee, you need experienced legal help immediately. To get started at once, call the West Palm Beach employer counseling attorneys at Pincus & Currier, LLP today at 561-868-1340 to schedule a meeting today.