Disability Discrimination - Ensure Employer Knows of Need for Accommodation


A disabled employee who needs an accommodation for their disability so that they can continue to perform the essential function of their job must inform the employer of their limitations and request a reasonable accommodation.

This can be done orally or in writing. However, it is the best practice for a disabled employee to put their limitations and request for a reasonable accommodation in writing.

In their request, an employee should make clear that they can continue to do their job, they just need a reasonable accommodation in order to do so. The employee should inform their employer of all of the limitations that they have due to their disability. Typically, an employee will need to provide the employer with a list of restrictions that must be met to accommodate the employee's disability.

For example, an employee who suffers from a debilitating back injury, would inform his employer that because of his back injury, he is unable to lift anything greater than fifteen (15) pounds. Similarly, a pregnant employee suffering from severe morning sickness, needs to inform her employer about her condition and her inability to work some mornings because of her condition.

Once the employee has informed their employer of their disability and their need for an accommodation, the burden is then on the employer to attempt to find a reasonable accommodation for the employee's disability. The law is clear that when an employer is aware of an employee's disability, the employer has an affirmative duty to make reasonable accommodations for the employee's disability.

The process by which an employee informs their employer about their disability and their limitations and the employer's subsequent affirmative duty to attempt to reasonably accommodate the employee's disability is known as an interactive process.

The goal of an interactive process is for the employer to find a way to accommodate the employee's condition so that the employee can continue to successfully perform their job duties even though they are disabled.

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