Reasonable accommodations under the ADA

Federal laws prohibit certain kinds of discrimination in employment in order to ensure that people get equal opportunities in the workplace. One such law is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the ADA, employers cannot discriminate against an employee with a disability. Further, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, three categories of accommodations are required under the ADA. First, employers must provide an accommodation that gives a disabled employee the same ability to enjoy benefits of employment as a non-disabled worker. Second, the employer must provide accommodations to the workplace itself that enable a disabled worker to perform essential aspects of the person's job. Third, the employer must perform modifications to the job applicant process so that disabled workers can apply to the job the person wants.

These categories are broad and encompass a variety of specific accommodations. These accommodations can include modifying a work schedule for a disabled worker, making a facility accessible to a disabled worker, changing company policies, restructuring a job, providing interpreters or reassigning a person to another vacant position.

However, employers only need to make these changes if the accommodations do not create an undue burden on the employer. For example, an employer does not have to eliminate essential functions from a particular job to accommodate a disabled employee.

Whether or not an employer has to provide a specific accommodation will depend on the facts in each case. People who have faced discrimination at work because of a disability or who have been fighting for an accommodation at work may need to seek legal help.