Americans with Disabilities Act


What is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA?

Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities. 

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What are some of the accommodations applicants and employees may need?

Examples of reasonable accommodation may include making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by an individual with a disability; restructuring a job; modifying work schedules; acquiring or modifying equipment; providing qualified readers or interpreters; or appropriately modifying examinations, training, or other programs. Reasonable accommodation also may include reassigning a current employee to a vacant position for which the individual is qualified, if the person is unable to do the original job, even with an accommodation, because of a disability. However, there is no obligation to find a position for an applicant who is not qualified for the position sought. Employers are not required to lower quality or quantity standards as an accommodation, nor are they obligated to provide personal-use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

The decision as to the appropriate accommodation must be based on the particular facts of each case. In selecting the particular type of reasonable accommodation to provide, the principal test is that of effectiveness; i.e., whether the accommodation will provide an opportunity for a person with a disability to achieve the same level of performance and to enjoy benefits equal to those of an average, similarly situated person without a disability. However, the accommodation does not have to ensure equal results or provide exactly the same benefits.

Will I be required to reallocate an essential function of a job to another employee as a reasonable accommodation?

No. An employer is not required to reallocate essential functions of a job as a reasonable accommodation.

Can I establish specific attendance and leave policies?

An employer can establish attendance and leave policies that are uniformly applied to all employees, regardless of disability, but may not refuse leave needed by an employee with a disability if other employees get such leave. An employee also should not be disciplined for absences relating to a reasonable accommodation. An employer also may be required to make adjustments in a leave policy as a reasonable accommodation. The employer is not obligated to provide additional paid leave, but accommodations may include leave flexibility and unpaid leave.

Can I still maintain existing production/performance standards for an employee with a disability?

An employer can hold employees with disabilities to the same standards of performance as other similarly situated employees without disabilities for performing essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation.

An employer also can hold employees with disabilities to the same standards of performance as other employees regarding marginal functions, unless the disability affects the person's ability to perform those marginal functions. If the ability to perform marginal functions is affected by the disability, the employer must provide some type of reasonable accommodation, such as job restructuring, but may not exclude an individual with a disability who is satisfactorily performing a job's essential function.

For informational purposes. Please visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website or for more information.

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