Workplace discrimination continues to plague American workplaces. So regardless of whether you’re an employer or an employee, you need to know the law so that you can protect your interests as fully as possible. While many employers try to focus on preventing gender and racial discrimination (oftentimes with questionable success), disability discrimination is often overlooked. This can spell trouble for both employers and their workers.
Reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Federal law requires many employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled individuals. This means that changes may have to be made during any stage in the employment process to ensure that these individuals enjoy equal employment opportunities. A reasonable accommodation may include installing a ramp to allow access to a disabled individual’s workstation, creating a workplace application in braille to accommodate blind applicants, and even acquiring new equipment to allow a disabled worker to do his or her job. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations could lead to a discrimination claim.
The ADA’s undue hardship exception
Not all accommodation requests have to be made, though. Under federal law, employers can deny a reasonable accommodation request if it poses an undue hardship on the employer. In broad terms, this primarily references costs. If the request is simply too expensive in light of the business’s financial resources, then the employer might be justified in denying the request. Additionally, an undue hardship may exist if an employer can show that the accommodation would disrupt basic business operations. These kinds of cases are subject to a fact-based analysis, so there’s no cookie cutter approach.
Protecting your interests
Making a reasonable accommodation request and dealing with concerns of undue hardship are just part of how disability discrimination can creep into the workplace. If you’re dealing with a disability discrimination issue, then you should consider speaking with a legal professional who can help you navigate your problem in a way that protects your interests as fully as possible.