By: Eva Zelson
On: April 28, 2023
How do you Request an Accommodation?
The request for accommodations is a process that falls under the guidance of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). During this process, the employer and the employee should work together to find a reasonable accommodation. According to the ADA, the requesting accommodation from an employer must be considered on a case-by-case basis. The employee or representative working on behalf of the employee making the request must disclose the nature of the disability as employers are only required to accommodate the particular disability that they are aware of. The process of requesting an accommodation begins with the employee disclosing the disability with the employer.
Dialogue between the employee and employer is essential in the request for accommodation process. As part of this dialogue, confidentiality is critical to this stage of the request. Requests for accommodations are not to become a part of the employee’s personnel file nor to be shared with co-workers. Documentation of the disability may be required from the employee if the particular disability is not apparent to the employer.
A key element of requesting an accommodation is its effectiveness. While the employer will ultimately decide what accommodation should be ratified for the employee, the accommodation must be effective in removing the limitations or barriers presented by the disability for the employee. The process will continue with identifying a reasonable and effective accommodation plan. The critical term in the accommodation process is reasonable. If the request for accommodation will be denied by the employer, they are responsible for providing legitimate evidence that the request is unreasonable.
Continuous communication and dialogue is necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodation and to potentially make adjustments to the plan. Documentation is an important component of assessing the effectiveness of the accommodation.
What is an Example of a Reasonable Accommodation?
The request for accommodation process centers upon whether the request is deemed reasonable. Some common examples of reasonable accommodation requests are:
- Reorganization or changing job tasks.
- Provide aid or services to improve accessibility such as reserved parking.
- Adjust, provide, or change equipment or technology.
- Add flexibility to schedule.
- Utilize alternative formats to training materials and evaluations.
- Reassign employee to a vacant position.
- Allowing service animals.
The question of what’s reasonable can lead a request for accommodation to litigation. In the case of US Airways, Inc v. Barnett (2002), the Supreme Court ruling levied that the burden of proof fell first on the plaintiff, the employee, to prove the accommodation was reasonable. Then, if the accommodation was deemed reasonable, the burden then shifts to the defendant, the employer, to prove the reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardships via the circumstances.
Does the Request for Accommodation have to be Submitted in Writing?
A request for accommodations is not required to be submitted in writing. Requests can be made through other modes of communication, such as face-to-face conversation. Employers may ask for the request to be completed in a specific form or in writing. Employers may also respond to the request of accommodation with a written response in the form of letter or memorandum to create documentation of the request.
Is it Necessary to Disclose the Medical Reason in the Request for Accommodation?
Employers have the right to request reasonable documentation regarding the disability and subsequent limitations. This documentation, however, may only pertain to the disability for which the request for accommodation applies, not an employee’s complete medical records. This reasonable documentation is for the employer’s verification that the employee has an ADA disability that requires an accommodation.
The ADA does not prohibit the employer from requesting the employee be evaluated by a health professional of the employer’s choice. The employer can not pursue reasonable documentation if the disability is obvious and apparent or that the employee has already presented the employer with sufficient documentation to prove an ADA disability exists and requires necessary accommodations.
Does an employer have to grant the request for accommodation?
Employers are not required to grant all requests for accommodation. Employers are required, however, to address and evaluate the request to determine whether there is in fact an ADA disability and that the requested accommodation is reasonable. Employers have the right to provide alternatives to requested accommodations.
If Your Employer does not Respond to Your Request for Accommodation
If your request for accommodation has been ignored or denied by your employer, put the experience of Zeff Law Firm to work for you. At Zeff Law Firm, our team of veteran employment attorneys brings over 30 years of experience to your service. Contact the Zeff Law Firm to advocate for your rights and help you receive the accommodations you deserve.