Reasonable Accommodations

Summary
Modifications to work environments to enable an employee with a disability to participate in application or essential job functions.

Employment Accommodations

Accommodations must be made on an individual basis because the nature and extent of a disabling condition and the requirements of a job will vary in each case. If the individual does not request an accommodation, the employer is not obligated to provide one except where an individual’s known disability impairs her/his ability to know of, or effectively communicate a need for, an accommodation that is obvious to the employer.

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.

A reasonable accommodation also includes an adjustment to assure that an individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities.

Is the accommodation effective?

The decision as to the appropriate accommodation must be based on the particular facts of each case. In selecting the particular type of accommodation to provide, the principal test is that of effectiveness, i.e., whether the accommodation will provide an opportunity for a person with a disability to achieve that same level of performance and to enjoy benefits equal to those of an average, similarly situated person without a disability. However, the accommodation does not have to ensure equal results or provide exactly the same benefits.

Qualifications and Responsibilities

The individual with a disability requiring the accommodation must be otherwise qualified, and the disability must be known to the employer. In addition, an employer is not required to make an accommodation if it would impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. Undue hardship is considered on a case-by-case basis and may include factors such as the size, resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s operation.

The employer’s responsibility under Title I is to provide access for an individual applicant to participate in the job application process and to perform the essential functions of his/her job. This includes access to the building, to the work site, to needed equipment, and to all facilities used by employees.

Under Title I, an employer is not required to make its existing facilities accessible until a particular applicant or employee with a particular disability needs an accommodation, and then the modifications should meet that individual’s specific medical needs. However, employers should consider initiating changes that will provide general accessibility, particularly for job applicants, since it is likely that people with disabilities will be applying for jobs.

The Rocky Mountain ADA Center is not an enforcement agency, nor does it provide advocacy services. The information and materials provided by the center are intended solely as informal guidance and are not a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities. All communication with the center is strictly confidential.

For possible additional resources, please see our resources page or contact the Rocky Mountain ADA Center through our Technical Assistance Form or call us directly at 800-949-4232.

External Resources