Overview: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer's business.
An employer's duty to make reasonable accommodations extends to all employment decisions, and it applies to job applicants and full- and part-time employees. Examples of accommodations include:
There are times when an employer may be excused from providing an accommodation. However, each accommodation request is fact-specific and the reasonableness of an accommodation should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Employers should opt to work something out when an employee requests an accommodation due to a disability. An employer that meets with an employee and discusses accommodation possibilities (i.e., engages in the interactive process) will be in a much better position if it is sued for failure to accommodate.
Trends: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has entered into multi-million dollar settlements with employers that inflexibly and universally apply a leave limit policy (such as no-fault attendance policies) without looking at the reasonable accommodation requirements of the ADA.
An employer that has a leave policy that calls for the automatic termination of employees who exhaust a specified period of available time off is looking for trouble from the EEOC. The EEOC expects to issue revised guidance on the topic of reasonable accommodations and leaves of absence under the ADA soon.
The federal courts have been reviewing whether an employer must, as a reasonable accommodation, pass over a more qualified individual, and assign an employee with a disability to a vacant job position (so long as the employee with a disability meets the minimum qualifications for the job) unless the employer can show that it would be an undue hardship to do so.
The Supreme Court has not addressed this issue so employers will need to be guided by the law in the state in which their business operates.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, has ruled that an employer did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying an employee's request to telecommute, holding that regular and predictable attendance is an essential job function.
Nebraska has amended its Fair Employment Practice Act to require reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Nebraska employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to Disability Related Leave; Requests for Accommodations.
A divided full panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ford Motor Company did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it decided not to allow an employee with irritable bowel syndrome to telecommute four days a week.
The US Supreme Court held in Young v. UPS that employers are not required to accommodate pregnant employees under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), but an employer may violate the PDA if it accommodates some employees but not pregnant employees.
Effective August 1, 2015, the North Dakota Human Rights Act will include a pregnancy accommodation requirement.
In-depth review of the spectrum of North Dakota employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to disability leave and requests for accommodations.
The Protecting Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2014 requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of their job is limited by pregnancy, childbirth, a related medical condition or breastfeeding. The law took effect March 3, 2015.
Employer considerations once an employee or applicant requests a reasonable accommodation. ADA help for the HR professional.