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Reasonable accommodations in the workplace

Employers have to walk a fine line between ensuring that their employees have what they need to get the job done and protecting the bottom line. When workers have disabilities, the company will have to determine what reasonable accommodations it needs to make for the person. This is sometimes a complicated matter because there isn't a list of required accommodations.

In the simplest terms, a reasonable accommodation is something that the employer can provide to a person so they can perform essential job duties. The challenge with determining this is that the company's finances and other factors come into the picture to decide what is reasonable.

Typically, larger companies that have higher profit totals can provide more accommodations than smaller businesses that have low profits. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also outlines which companies have to make reasonable accommodations. Due to the law, companies who have fewer than 15 employees don't have a duty to comply with the federal law unless there are local or state laws that require them to meet them.

The types of accommodations you might need to provide can vary greatly. Some, such as offering reserved parking, are usually easy. Others might be more difficult. A disabled worker might ask that you provide them with software that helps them perform. Others might need specialized training in a format differing from the usual one.

All requests for accommodations must undergo an individual review. Not only do you need to ensure that the person meets the requirements for ADA coverage, but you also have to determine how the accommodation impacts your company. The difficulty here is that you are limited in what you can ask the employee about the disability, so be sure that you understand those restrictions.

There is a chance that your company will face litigation if you don't provide accommodations when an employee asks for them. Preparing for this can be beneficial since you might be able to avoid lengthy legal battles.

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