How Long Does an Employer Have to Accommodate a Disability?

Submitted by Elizabeth on

If you’ve developed a disability, per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer may need to provide you with reasonable accommodations to ensure you can continue to perform your work duties. You may be wondering how long they have to do so.

There is no specific timeframe for an employer to accommodate a worker’s disability. However, the ADA establishes other requirements an employer must follow. Employers also may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for receiving an accommodation. You could take legal action if this happens.

Who is Protected Under the ADA?  

The ADA applies to both employees and employers. It applies to private employers with 15 or more employees. It also applies to state and local government employers, regardless of the number of employees. The ADA covers labor organizations and employment agencies as well.

The law protects individuals with disabilities who otherwise possess the qualifications to perform the essential functions of their jobs with or without reasonable accommodations. The ADA defines a disability as an impairment (that can be mental or physical in nature) that substantially limits at least one major life activity. A record of such an impairment, or simply being regarded as having such an impairment may also meet the ADA’s definition.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation? 

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. Reasonable accommodations can take many forms and will depend on the specific needs of an employee. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Modifying work hours or schedules to allow an employee to receive medical care
  • Providing assistive technology or similar equipment, such as a screen reader or a wheelchair ramp 
  • Modifying job duties or responsibilities to eliminate non-essential tasks or to allow for different ways of performing tasks
  • Providing accessible communication methods or materials, such as a sign language interpreter or Braille materials
  • Allowing for remote work or telecommuting

When determining what accommodations are reasonable, employers must consider factors such as the nature of the job, the cost, and resources necessary to provide the accommodation, and the overall impact of the accommodation on their operations.

Discrimination For Receiving a Reasonable Accommodation

An employee who experiences discrimination for receiving a reasonable accommodation may file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is a federal organization enforcing the ADA and similar laws.

Filing a complaint with the EEOC begins with contacting an EEOC field office to initiate the process. Or an employee can start the process online through the EEOC’s website.

The employee filing the complaint should provide as much detail as possible about the discrimination they have experienced. This may include:

  • The date(s) and location(s) of the discrimination
  • The names of any witnesses or individuals involved
  • Any documentation or evidence of the discrimination

After an employee files a complaint, the EEOC will investigate the allegations. This may involve:

  • Gathering evidence
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Reviewing relevant documents

If the EEOC determines that discrimination has occurred, they will attempt to reach a settlement with the employer. The EEOC may file a lawsuit on behalf of the employee if they can’t reach a settlement.

Be aware that retaliation against an employee for filing a complaint with the EEOC is illegal and may warrant additional legal action. If the employee experiences retaliation for filing a complaint, they may also file a complaint with the EEOC for retaliation.

Get Legal Help  

You don’t need to endure workplace discrimination if you’ve received an accommodation for a disability. You have legal options in these circumstances.

However, it is important to understand that the process of filing a complaint may be complex. Thus, it’s wise to enlist the help of a disability discrimination attorney. They can assist with such tasks as filing a complaint, representing you in a lawsuit, and more. Get started today by scheduling a consultation—that’s entirely free of charge for you—by completing the form on this page. 

Additional Resources 

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