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What is a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

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Employees with disabling impairments within the meaning of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) may qualify for reasonable accommodations from their employers to enable them to perform the essential duties of their jobs. An employer commits disability discrimination if the employer denies a reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability. Generally, an employee must affirmatively request a reasonable accommodation from an employer, unless the employer has actual knowledge of the disabled employee’s need for the accommodation.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against employees. The EEOC has an informative guide that discusses what “reasonable accommodation” means and who is entitled to receive it.

Not every accommodation that an employee may request will be considered reasonable, however. The First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has clarified that an employee must satisfy a 2-part test in order to establish that an accommodation that the employee has sought, and that an employer has denied, was reasonable. First, the employee must show that the sought accommodation was “facially reasonable.” This means, simply, that it would have been reasonable on its face for the employer to have provided the employee the accommodation, without subjecting the employer to undue burden. Second, the employee must show that the accommodation, if granted, would have been “effective” and would have enabled the employee to perform the essential duties of her job.

If you have a question about employment discrimination law, you should contact an experienced employee rights attorney such as Benjamin T. King at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. Attorney King has been ranked in the top 5 % of attorneys in New England representing employees in employment discrimination cases, continuously since 2014. Attorney King can be reached at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.