Reasonable Accommodations May Not Have to Be Essential to Allow a Worker to Perform Job

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) protect individuals with “disabilities” from discrimination. Specifically these anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination against “qualified individuals with a disability” in the terms and conditions of employment. The ADA & ADAAA also prohibit disability harassment and retaliation against you for complaining about disability discrimination or for participating in someone else’s disability discrimination case.

If you are a qualified individual with a disability, these laws protect you in several ways. First, your employer is required to make an effort to reasonably accommodate your disability. If, despite your disability, you are able to do your job, either with no accommodation at all, or with a reasonable accommodation, your employer must accommodate you.

An accommodation can be something as simple as changing your starting time a few minutes, giving you a telephone amplifier if you’re hard of hearing, or changing your workspace if it exacerbates your medical condition. If your employer refuses to accommodate you, in most cases you can file a disability discrimination charge. Your employer, however, is not required to accommodate you if your requested accommodation would be too expensive or burdensome, or if your medical condition poses a serious risk of harm to you or someone else in your workplace.

If you have questions about discrimination or believe that you may have been discriminated against because of a disability, it’s a good idea to consult with a Georgia disability discrimination lawyer right away. An Atlanta ADA lawyer can advise you of your rights and help you determine your next steps.

A recent case looked at the relationship between the reasonable accommodation and a worker’s “essential job function.” In Feist v. Louisiana, the 5th Circuit Court (which includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas) evaluated whether a worker had to prove that her request for a parking spot as an accommodation for a knee injury was tied to her ability to perform her job.

After determining that the parking spot request was reasonable, the court stated “accommodations may include those that make the workplace more accessible without necessarily enhancing an essential job function.”

Specifically, the regulations state that a reasonable accommodation may include “modifications or adjustments to the work environment” that enable a qualified worker “to perform the essential functions” of a particular position as well as those that enable the worker “to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment” as enjoyed by similarly situated co-workers.

As a result, the employee didn’t have to show that the closer parking space was essential to her ability to perform her job, just that it enabled her to perform her job in an equal manner as her co-workers.

For more information about disability discrimination or if you believe that you have suffered any form of work place discrimination, please contact the experienced Georgia discrimination lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.