The concept of “reasonable accommodation” refers to the adjustments and modifications made by employers to facilitate the effective performance of job duties by employees with diagnosed medical conditions. This critical principle is outlined within the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), a pivotal legal framework designed to ensure fair treatment and opportunities for all. This article covers what you need to know about reasonable accommodation, including different forms and how to make a request.
Forms of Reasonable Accommodation
Reasonable accommodations vary depending on the specific needs of the individuals with disabilities. Some common forms of reasonable accommodation include:
- Assistive Devices and Technology: This can include screen readers, voice recognition software, or ergonomic tools tailored to individual needs.
- Flexible Work Schedules: Offering flexibility in work hours or remote work arrangements can allow employees to manage their work in a way that accommodates medical conditions or disabilities.
- Physical Modifications: Making physical changes to the workplace – such as installing ramps, building accessible restrooms, or adding elevators – ensures that employees with physical disabilities can navigate their workspaces comfortably.
- Job Restructuring: This could involve redistributing tasks, adjusting job responsibilities, or providing additional training to enhance job performance. This does not exempt employees from their responsibilities to perform essential job functions.
While accommodations are designed to facilitate the employee’s ability to execute their duties, they should not exempt individuals from meeting the fundamental requirements of their role. This means that employees with disabilities are still held accountable for completing the core responsibilities associated with their job.
Employers Reasonable Action
Employers are legally required to act “reasonably” when responding to requests for accommodation from employees with diagnosed medical conditions. However, this obligation is not absolute; employers are exempt from providing accommodations that would create an “undue” hardship or burden on the company. The determination of reasonableness versus undue hardship is often subjective and relies on various factors such as the size and financial resources of the company, the nature of the requested accommodation, and the impact on overall operations.
Requesting Reasonable Accommodations
- Talk to a Doctor: Discussing the situation with a doctor in advance will allow the employee to explain their work-related needs, specify the accommodations desired, and confirm whether the doctor is willing to support the request in writing. Employees should detail the nature of their work, their essential job functions, and the adjustments they believe would enable them to perform optimally. During this visit, employees should also clarify their accommodation request, specifying the type of accommodations required and the duration needed.
- Documentation: Employers typically request a doctor’s note or certification from employees seeking accommodation, confirming the existence of a medical condition and the necessity of the requested adjustments. Some employers may require doctors to complete a functionality questionnaire, providing detailed insights into how the medical condition affects the employee’s ability to perform essential job functions.
- Written Request to Human Resources: A written request to Human Resources outlining accommodations is also an important component. This provides a clear and documented record of the employees’ needs and preferences. This also aids in facilitating a more effective and efficient interactive process between the employee and employer. Providing written details establishes transparent and constructive dialogue, ensuring both parties are on the same page when addressing such requests.
Your Trusted Source for Legal Assistance
At Zatuchni & Associates, we can assist you in navigating the realm of reasonable accommodation. With a commitment to ensuring that every individual is granted fair and just treatment under the New Jersey LAD, our experienced team is ready to provide the guidance and support you need. Should it come to a legal dispute, the evaluation of what constitutes reasonable accommodation depends on the specific circumstances of each case – meaning judgments in this context are highly subjective. Variables such as the nature of the disability, the impact on job functions, and the organization’s resources all contribute to the nuanced nature of these assessments. Predicting how a court or jury would interpret the reasonableness of accommodations in advance is challenging, due to the diverse factors influencing their decisions. At Zatuchni & Associates, we are trained in employment law and can help you build a case with confidence. Learn more by visiting our website. Can you be fired for performance issues caused by your disability? Click to find out.