What are reasonable accommodations at work?

Employers should provide reasonable accommodations for employees with certain needs. These include those protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These accommodations allow them to perform their jobs effectively and enjoy equal benefits with other employees.

This guide discusses three categories of reasonable accommodations at work:

Changes to the job application process

Reasonable accommodations start in the application stage. Employers should provide accommodations or make changes for applicants with disabilities.  

These include offering writing materials in different formats, changing a test date or site, extending test periods, preparing information in enlarged prints, changing the interview location, employing assistive technology for those with hearing disorders and conducting remote interviews.

Changes to the work environment

An employer should modify the work environment to help employees with disabilities perform the essential functions of their job. 

Examples include offering assistive furniture and equipment, modifying their work schedule, providing manuals, instructions and training in different formats and reassignment to a vacant position.

Changes that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits

Employees with disabilities should enjoy similar employment benefits and privileges of employment as those without. For example, they should access training and other opportunities.

When can an employer not provide a reasonable accommodation?

An employer may fail to provide a reasonable accommodation that would cause undue hardship to the company. If they can prove the particular accommodation can lead to a significant difficulty or expense, an employee may not have grounds to take action against them.

An employer may also not be required to provide personal use items as accommodations, such as wheelchairs, eyeglasses or hearing aids, or personal use amenities, such as a refrigerator, as long as those items are not provided to employees without disabilities.

If you believe your employer has refused to provide you with a reasonable accommodation, you should obtain more information about your case to protect your rights. 

super lawyers
New York County Lawyers Association
New York City Bar
NELA Advocates for Employee Rights National Employment Lawyers Association
lead counsel lc verified