What are reasonable accommodations for disability at work?

| May 1, 2020 | Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) |

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), individuals with disabilities have protection from discrimination and equal opportunity for employment. This includes requirements for employers to provide reasonable accommodation for those with disabilities.

Which employers and employees are involved?

Employers in Pennsylvania with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations. ADA protects employees if they are a “qualified individual with a disability.” This means that they have a disability and can perform the “essential functions,” or core duties, of the job.

What are reasonable accommodations?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health defines reasonable accommodation as changes to the job, the application process or the work environment that will help the employee or potential employee apply for, perform the functions of the job, or take part in benefits of employment.

Here are a few examples of what reasonable accommodations at work could look like:

  • Making changes to the work facilities to make them accessible to the employee, such as installing a ramp or an accessible bathroom for an employee with a wheelchair or walker
  • Modifying work schedules to accommodate an employee with disabilities, including added time off for doctor’s appointments
  • Changing or adding work equipment, like installing read-aloud programs on computers for a blind employee, supplying equipment that can be taken home for an employee with chronic pain or getting an electronic scooter for an employee who tires easily

Sometimes, reasonable accommodation is not required if it would “impose an undue hardship” on the business. This could mean that it is very difficult or expensive to provide. While an employer may not be required to provide an employee’s first choice accommodation, they do need to meet the needs of their employees.