Asking for Work Accommodations for a Disability
Being disabled doesn’t
disqualify you from joining the workforce. The Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) prevents employers from discriminating against you based on your
disability. It also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for
qualified individuals who are seeking jobs for people with disabilities. If you need to ask for
accommodations based on your physical, mental, or emotional disability, here
are a few things to consider.
What Is a Reasonable Accommodation?
Under the ADA, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to individuals who qualify, as long as the accommodation doesn’t pose an undue hardship. The most common accommodations made by employers are those that make the office and other facilities easy for employees to use, such as modifying desk heights, installing telecommunications for the deaf, and adding wheelchair-accessible ramps. However, you also have the right to request other reasonable accommodations, such as:
• A modified schedule
• Job restructuring
• Additional unpaid leave for medical treatment
• A job transfer to another location that puts employees within close proximity to better treatment facilities
• Access to a qualified interpreter
• Customized training
When to Make the Request?
If you have a specific need that enables you to do a job to the best of your ability, you should ask an employer for an accommodation. You can make these requests during the interview process because it’s illegal for the employer to discriminate against you based on your disability. Bring the request up early on to give your employer time to make all necessary adjustments. However, if you become aware of the need after accepting the position, you can still negotiate for reasonable accommodations to be made.
Preparing the Request
If your request is made after the interview process, you should speak with your manager or team leader. He or she can handle the request or refer you to the human resources department. Express your medical needs when making the request. For example, when asking for a new work chair, don’t just say your current chair is uncomfortable. This is too general. Instead, explain that the chair aggravates your hip or back, causing significant discomfort. If you need to take time off for treatment, have your doctor provide documentation deeming the treatment medically necessary and submit it to your manager or human resources department. If there’s a special needs department within the company, you can also submit the request and paperwork to that department. Always be honest when making a request and provide all of the information you think is necessary. However, you don’t have to share details that make you uncomfortable.
What if the Request Is Denied?
Employers should respond to an employee’s request expeditiously and make all reasonable accommodations promptly. Employers cannot deny a request if the accommodation is deemed medically necessary and doesn’t cause undue hardship. Denying the request could be ruled a violation of the ADA and you should file a claim immediately. You can file the claim on the ADA’s website or by contacting your state’s attorney general.
When looking for the right job, it’s important to consider if you can reasonably perform your duties while managing your disability. Sit-down jobs may be ideal for people with mobility limitations, while those with mental disabilities may prefer work that requires more physical activity throughout the day. No matter your disability, there’s a great job out there waiting for you. Begin your search by checking out the listings provided by disABLEDperson, Inc., and give us a call at 760-420-1269 if you have any questions.