Reasonable Accommodation for Medical Condition or Disability
Our Columbus Ohio employment and disability attorneys represent clients throughout Ohio in cases of employer’s violating Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. We often see violations of the ADA when an employer fails to provide a disabled employee with a reasonable accommodation. These situations are often complex and how an employee proceeds during this situation could impact his or her ability to bring a legal claim. Our employment lawyers know the ins and outs of federal and Ohio disability laws. It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Contact us for a free consultation, and we can evaluate your case today.
The ADA and Ohio law require that employers provide disabled employees with a reasonable accommodation. However, an employee must initiate the process by requesting a reasonable accommodation.
What if I ask for a reasonable accommodation and my employer denies it?
If you request a reasonable accommodation and your employer denies it, then you may have a claim for failure to accommodate under the ADA and Ohio law. To succeed on a claim for failure to accommodate, an employee must prove she is an individual with a disability and she is qualified for her job with or without an accommodation.
The employee must also prove the employer knew (or had reason to know) of the disability, that the employee requested a reasonable accommodation, and that the employer failed to provide a reasonable accommodation. The requirements for these additional elements are explained in greater detail below.
How do courts determine whether an accommodation is “reasonable?”
Accommodations ensure disabled individuals have an equal opportunity to be successful in their careers. However, accommodation requests must be reasonable. Whether a particular request is reasonable depends on the specific facts and circumstances, but accommodation requests generally fall under the following categories:
- Physical Changes, such as installing wheelchair ramps or providing standing desks
- Technology or Communication Changes, such as providing documents in Braille format or providing blue light-blocking software for computers
- Policy Changes, such as flex-time scheduling options or job restructuring
The reasonableness of a particular request will ultimately depend on the specific circumstances, but courts have previously found the above requests to be reasonable. An accommodation request is NOT reasonable if it eliminates an “essential” job function or lowers the employer’s production standards.
What does my employer have to do once I request an accommodation?
An employer cannot simply deny an accommodation request and take no further action. Under the ADA, covered employers are required to make reasonable efforts to accommodate an employee’s known disability. This means the employer must engage in an interactive process – a back-and-forth discussion where both the employee and the employer participate. The end goal of this discussion is to find an accommodation that works for both the employee and the employer.
An employer can also argue that the employee’s requested accommodation would place an undue burden or hardship on the employer’s business:
Example: undue hardship to the employer: Bob is a member of a construction team of four employees, and the team must perform their job duties together; if one employee is absent, the team cannot function. Bob requests a schedule change to accommodate his disability. Bob’s employer can deny this request, claiming the schedule change would pose an undue hardship, because if the request were granted, Bob’s team members would also have to change their schedules.
Example: NO undue hardship to the employer: An employee undergoing chemotherapy requests that some of her marginal job functions be assigned to other employees so she can focus her energy on her essential job duties. While other employees’ workloads are increased, the request is temporary and doesn’t significantly impact the employees’ productivity.
However, the employer must actually prove it would suffer an undue hardship by accommodating the employee; merely stating that an accommodation would be too burdensome is not sufficient.
ADA laws are very complex and fact-specific, and reasonable accommodation requirements contain many nuances. For more information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact our Columbus Ohio employment lawyers today or visit our Employment Law Blog for more details on specific situations that might affect your ADA rights. Our Columbus employment lawyers have won several verdicts on ADA lawsuits throughout Ohio. People should not be judged on their disabilities or medical conditions. We can evaluate whether you have a disability case for a failure to accommodate under the ADA. We can also assist you in obtaining a reasonable accommodation and enforcing your rights under the ADA. Give us a call to set up a free consultation today.
Our central location in Columbus, Ohio makes it easy and convenient to represent employees everywhere in Ohio. Call your Ohio Accommodation Lawyers today.