If you suffer from a disability, you probably already know that you can request that your employer make "reasonable accommodations" to help you perform your job duties, as long as the accommodations do not cause an undue hardship on your employer. Many employers do not have enough experience with the Americans with Disabilities Act to understand how to fulfill this obligation properly.
While a lack of experience with the ADA is no excuse, it does bring up the fact that employers make numerous mistakes when attempting to comply with the Act. It may be up to you to educate your employer regarding what the Act requires. You could do this by understanding the most common mistakes employers make in this regard.
Common reasonable accommodation mistakes
Most mistakes made by employers when it comes to requests for and fulfilling reasonable accommodations include the following:
- Employers don't have a policy outlining how to request reasonable accommodations. The law does not require any "magic words" from an employee who needs a modification in order to continue working, so it is up to your employer to provide you with a way to get what you need.
- Employers fail to designate one person, usually someone in human resources, to handle all such requests. Managers and supervisors may not understand what the ADA requires.
- Employers may fail to respond to a request or stop attempting to fulfil a request when no obvious solution to the issue exists. They should continue to find a resolution to the issue, which may require thinking outside the box and considering unorthodox solutions.
- Employers often fail to recognize the link between the Family and Medical Leave Act and the ADA.
- Employers also fail to check back with employees with reasonable accommodations to ensure the accommodations are working.
As you move through the process of requesting a reasonable accommodation from your employer, you may want to document everything in case one of the above mistakes occurs. Of course, that's assuming that your employer made a mistake and did not just avoid your request on purpose. In either case, you may need your records when you sit down with an attorney to find out what you can do next. In order to protect your rights, and possibly your job, you may need to take legal action, and having an advocate on your side could help increase your chances of success.