Disability Discrimination: Four Myths About Reasonable Accommodations
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) is a state law that also prohibits disability discrimination and applies to many smaller employers.
Not only do the ADA and the LAD bar direct discrimination against disabled employees, these laws require covered employers to work to provide reasonable accommodations to affected workers. Here, our Monmouth County disability discrimination attorney dispel four of the most common myths about reasonable accommodations.
- Employer Gets to Decide What is “Reasonable”
False. One myth about reasonable accommodations is that the employer gets to unilaterally decide what is “reasonable.” This is not true. The determination of what is reasonable accommodation is based on the individual needs of the employee with a disability and whether the accommodation would allow them to perform the essential functions of their job. An accommodation that does not present an “undue burden” on the employer may be reasonable—even if the employer does not like the particular accommodation.
- An Employer Meets the Standard as Long as they Provide “Some” Accommodation
False. Another myth is that as long as the employer provides some accommodation, they have met their legal obligation. This is simply not the case. A partial accommodation may not be sufficient. The accommodation must be effective in addressing the employee’s disability-related needs and must allow the employee to perform the essential functions of their job. Simply providing a token accommodation that does not address the employee’s needs or does not allow them to fully participate in their job would not meet the legal standard for reasonable accommodations.
- Employer is Only Required to Try to Provide an Accommodation
False. Another myth is that an employer is only required to try to provide an accommodation, but is not required to actually provide one. This is not necessarily true. While the ADA requires an employer to engage in a good faith, interactive bargaining process, the law requires an employer to keep working to find an accommodation that actually satisfies the disabled employee’s needs. An employer cannot just say that they “tried” and give up.
- A Disabled Worker Can Choose His or Her Own Accommodation
False―at least from a legal perspective. A final myth about reasonable accommodations is that the disabled worker gets to choose their own accommodation. While the employee’s input is important in determining an effective accommodation, the final decision on the accommodation must be based on what is effective in addressing the employee’s disability-related needs and allowing them to perform the essential functions of their job. An employer in New Jersey may meet their burden by providing an alternative—but effective—accommodation that is different from an employee’s request.
Get Help From a Disability Discrimination Lawyer in Monmouth County
At Poulos LoPiccolo PC, our New Jersey employee rights advocates have extensive experience handling disability discrimination claims. If you have any specific questions or concerns about reasonable accommodations, we are here to help. Contact us today for a strictly confidential initial consultation. We handle disability discrimination claims in Monmouth County and throughout the surrounding region in New Jersey.