What are reasonable accommodations?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2019 | Employment Law, Firm News

State and federal laws require Minnesota employers to provide accommodations to workers with disabilities. Any employer that does not comply with these laws can face harsh penalties and costly legal battles.

If you are an employer, you should understand these rules and which workers should receive accommodations. Doing so can help you avoid these consequences and protect your employees’ rights.

What makes an accommodation reasonable?

Accommodations allow a worker with a mental or physical ability to participate in the hiring process. They remove barriers prohibiting the worker from performing critical functions of their job and provide the employee access to benefits of employment.

Employers must provide accommodations that are reasonable. An accommodation is reasonable if it does not cause significant expense, is not disruptive, and does not cause undue hardship for you. Examples can include:

  • Modifying the person’s work schedule
  • Providing job aides
  • Reassigning the worker
  • Modifying job duties

Who receives accommodations?

Job applicants and employees can receive accommodations if they have physical or mental disabilities, and the disability may be permanent or temporary. For instance, women may require accommodations while they are pregnant.

Note that only employers with at least 15 employees are required to provide reasonable accommodations.

Can employers deny accommodations?

If an applicant or employee requests an accommodation, employers can deny the request if it is not reasonable. Employers may also deny an accommodation for an employee who is currently using illegal drugs. Additionally, employers may deny an accommodation requested by an unqualified individual, or someone who does not meet essential eligibility requirements.

If the person requesting the accommodation disagrees with the decision, however, he or she may file a lawsuit alleging discrimination.

These claims can be complicated and contentious. Employers with questions about whether an accommodation is reasonable or their duty to provide it can consult an attorney to avoid making a decision that triggers a legal battle.