The Americans with Disabilities Act protects disabled workers by making employers with 15 or more employees responsible for providing accommodations in the workplace.
However, sometimes necessary accommodations are challenging to implement, and business owners may find themselves choosing between employees and their companies.
Understanding “undue hardship”
The ADA does not require employers to make changes that are too expensive or difficult to implement. The guidelines defining undue hardship vary between companies based on size and resources. Smaller companies do not have the same financial resources as larger businesses, so a large company may need to provide more costly accommodations than a family-run shop.
Examples of requests that create undue hardships are ones that:
- cause safety hazards for other employees
- reduce workflow and production
- break other laws
Managing accommodation requests
When business owners believe it is too difficult to provide a requested accommodation, they must do the following:
- offer an alternative that provides a similar outcome within the company’s means
- allow the employee to pay for a portion of the expense if cost is a factor
If employees decide not to accept the modified accommodation, that decision may prevent them from doing their jobs. In these cases, employers could legally terminate the workers.
When employees approve the proposed accommodations, they must meet the same performance standards as other workers. Business owners can lawfully terminate any employee for poor work quality or output.
Business owners must make every effort to accommodate disabled employees, but it is essential to understand that they do not need to jeopardize their companies in the process.