How a reasonable accommodation creates an undue hardship

How a reasonable accommodation creates an undue hardship

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Discrimination

Allegations of disability discrimination can pose a significant threat to your business. It can lead to financial penalties that can rock your bottom line and your stability, and it can negatively impact the good will that you’ve worked hard to build with your clients. That’s why it’s important that you know how to navigate the Americans with Disabilities Act in light of how it applies to your business.

Reasonable accommodations

One area of the ADA where employers often get tripped up is reasonable accommodations. Under federal law, an employee has the right to request that you provide reasonable accommodations so that they can enjoy equal employment opportunities. This may be anything from a modified application process to ensuring wheelchair accessibility at the place of employment, or it could require you to modify an employee’s work schedule.

While you may not be required to provide such an accommodation, a refusal to do so has to be carried out with care. After all, an improperly denied reasonable accommodation can lead to legal action based on disability discrimination.

Undue hardship

The best justification for a denied reasonable accommodation request is that the request, if granted, would create an undue hardship on the employer. To determine whether a requested accommodation would, in fact, lead to an undue hardship, several factors have to be considered. This includes each of the following:

  • The type of accommodation that’s been requested
  • The cost of the accommodation
  • The business’s financial resources
  • The financial impact on the business by providing the accommodation
  • The number of people employed at the business
  • How the accommodation would affect business operations

There may be other considerations, too. It’s a comprehensive assessment, so if you’re facing this issue, you’ll want to carefully think through all of the issues that may be relevant to the determination.

Is there a middle ground?

Before outright denying a reasonable accommodation request, you may want to consider working with the employee who made the request to see if a compromise can be reached. This may involve curtailing the expansiveness of the request in some regard or turning to outside sources for additional funding streams to cover the cost of the accommodation. Making these efforts may resolve the issue, but even if it doesn’t, it might serve as strong evidence to support your position in the event that you’re subject to legal action.

Gathering evidence

Remember, you need to be comprehensive when you address this matter. Make sure that you’re fully researching the costs associated with the accommodation and discussing them with the requestor so that everyone is on the same page with how expensive it is.

Also, be sure to fully analyze your business’s revenues to see how much of a hit the accommodation will have on your business’s financial stability. Then, consider how similarly situated businesses have responded to similar requests. This may provide you with some guidance on how to handle the situation before you.

Is an advocate right for you?

If you’re facing an employment law issue like those pertaining to the ADA, it’s probably in your best interest to have a legal ally in your corner. One of these advocates can advise you on the law, how it applies to your situation and how you can use it to your advantage to protect your interests. That way, you can make the fully informed decisions that you think are best for your business.

If you’re interested in learning more about what a legal advocate can do for you, please think about reaching out to an advocate who is experienced in this area of the law.