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Disabled employees should expect reasonable accommodations at work

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers in Texas and around the country to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers. Exceptions are made when it would cause undue hardship or threaten a business. An employee is considered disabled when they suffer from a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits their ability to perform one or more major life activities, and they are entitled to reasonable accommodations when they are qualified to perform the essential functions of their job.

Reasonable accommodations

Reasonable is a nebulous word, but legal protections exist for disabled employees. Providing a reserved parking space close to an access point for a disabled worker would be considered a reasonable accommodation in virtually any situation, but constructing a separate entrance for them may not be. This is why the ADA and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission require requests for reasonable accommodations to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Employers are also expected to make reasonable accommodations for disabled job applicants and trainees.

The penalties for violating the ADA

Laws like the ADA that prohibit workplace discrimination are enforced by the EEOC. Disabled workers who feel that they have been denied a reasonable accommodation usually have 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a complaint with the commission. If an ADA investigation finds evidence of discrimination, employers can be ordered to hire, promote or reinstate disabled workers and pay their unpaid wages and legal fees. Employers that make good faith efforts to provide disabled workers with reasonable accommodations or refuse to make accommodations that would be prohibitively expensive are not considered to be in violation of the ADA.

Employers must carefully examine requests

While there is much legal gray area surrounding the use of the phrase “reasonable accommodations,” disabled employees are still empowered to make these requests. Employers cannot simply refuse or disregard these requests without due consideration. If the employee feels that reasonable accommodations have not been made to facilitate a positive and productive work environment, they should immediately seek the guidance of a skilled legal professional.