Reasonable Accommodation for Employment

Sometimes, the nature of an on the job injury or a disability means that you can perform job tasks with a little assistance that other employees may not need or ask for. This is called a reasonable accommodation. By law, reasonable accommodations must be provided by an employer to employees who need them, unless the accommodation would pose an “undue hardship” on the employer.

What is Reasonable?

For example, an injured construction worker who is applying for administrative positions might be released by his doctor to lift up to 20 pounds as long as he wears a back-brace. The worker could ask a potential employer for this back-brace as a reasonable accommodation, because it would not be an accommodation which is too expensive, disruptive, or extensive, and would not be considered an “undue hardship” placed on the employer. The worker could not however ask for expensive specialty equipment instead of the back brace. (It would not be considered “reasonable.”)

How does the employer know?

An employer cannot ask a potential employee if their situation requires a reasonable accommodation to perform the job. An employer can only ask if a person is capable of performing the tasks of the job description. In addition, employers do not have to provide reasonable accommodations if they do not know that a potential employee needs one. So what can be done in this situation?

A job applicant is responsible for letting an employer know of their need for this accommodation, but the employee does not have to give information about why this accommodation is needed. It would be a good idea to format a letter of “Request for Reasonable Accommodation” to keep with your resume and submit when applying to jobs. You can see additional information at the Job Accommodation Network website here . Make sure the letter includes:

  • The date, your name and address
  • The employer’s name and address
  • A sentence identifying yourself as “a person with a disability.”
  • A request for an accommodation under the American with Disabilities Act ( ADA ) of 1990
  • A sentence identifying the job tasks the accommodation will help with
  • Your ideas for what kind of accommodation is appropriate
  • A request for a response in a reasonable amount of time
  • A professional conclusion thanking the employer for their time and closed with your signature

You may or may not choose to attach medical documents to further explain why the accommodation is needed, but this is not necessary and can be provided to the employer after you have been hired. You do not need to disclose if this accommodation is a result of a worker’s comp injury.

The attorneys at The Coye Law Firm are experienced with disability, workers' compensation, and employment discrimination law. If you have questions, contact one today to see if they can review your case and help explain your rights and the process.