The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified applicant or employee with a disability – unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship.  42 U.S.C. § 12112.

Depending on the circumstances, a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA may include any of the following:

  1. Modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires;
  2. Modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable an individual with a disability who is qualified to perform the essential functions of that position; or
  3. Modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity’s employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o)(1).

What type of reasonable accommodation may be appropriate for an employee depends significantly on the nature of the employee’s disability, the requirements of his or her job, and the resources available to the employer.  In order to determine what reasonable accommodation may be required, if any, the employer may need to engage in the interactive process with an employee.

Depending of the facts of the case, reasonable accommodations that may be required include:  (i) job restructuring; (ii) part-time or modified work schedules; (iii) reassignment to a vacant position; (iv) acquisition or modifications of equipment or devices; (v) appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials, or policies; or (vi) the provision of qualified readers or interpreters.  29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o)(2)(ii).

Takeaway:  Familiarity with the types of reasonable accommodations that may be required under the ADA will better prepare an employer to respond to requests for accommodations from employees.