Reasonable Accommodation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA)
The concept of “reasonable accommodation” is an important component to federal and state disability laws. This is a complex legal issue which requires individualized assessment when it arises for an employee and employer in today’s workplace.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified employee with a disability, unless the requisite accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business.
A “reasonable accommodation” is defined as:
(1) Job restructuring,
(2) Part-time or modified work schedules,
(3) Re-assignment to a vacant position,
(4) Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, or
(5) Similar accommodations, such as a leave of absence for individuals with disabilities.
Both federal and state law requires that an employer and employee engage in a good faith, interactive process concerning a request for reasonable accommodation. An actual request for reasonable accommodation must be made by an employee. This request need not contain any magic words, but it must be sufficient to inform the employer that the employee is seeking an accommodation.
Where an employee requests accommodation, the employer must engage in the interactive process to identify the limitations caused by the disability and the potential reasonable accommodations to overcome those limitations.
An “undue hardship” means that an accommodation would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business. Factors to consider in determining what is an “undue hardship ” include: The nature and cost of the accommodation; the overall financial resources of the facility and covered entity; and the number of persons employed at the facility or by the company as a whole.
We have extensive experience in ensuring that compliance with applicable state and federal laws occur so as to protect both the employer and assure that the employee’s rights are being accommodated. Contact one of our attorneys to discuss your situation and how best to resolve same in an efficient and economic manner.