Employees' Practical Guide to Negotiating and Requesting Reasonable Accommodations Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
III. NEGOTIATING AN ACCOMMODATION
- How do I know if I am entitled to the accommodation I want?
- What if I am not sure what accommodation I need?
- What if my employer denies my accommodation request?
- What if I need another accommodation in the future?
- What if my employer retaliates against me for requesting an accommodation?
In general, to be entitled to an accommodation under the ADA, you must work for an employer with 15 or more employees (or a state or local government), you must be a person with a disability as defined in the ADA, and you must need the accommodation because of your disability. In addition, if there are other accommodations that will meet your needs, besides the one you want, your employer is free to choose among effective accommodation options. Finally, your employer can deny your accommodation if providing it would cause the employer an undue hardship.
Even if you are not sure what accommodation you need, you can go ahead and let your employer know that you need an adjustment or change at work because of a medical condition. Then, you and your employer can explore accommodation options together.
If you want to research accommodation options yourself, you can call JAN to get accommodation ideas or look at JAN's on-line accommodation publications at http://askjan.org/media/atoz.htm.
If your employer denies your request, try to find out why so you know what to do next. For example, if your employer denied your request because your medical information did not show that you have a disability, you can provide additional information. Or, if your employer decided that the accommodation you requested would pose an undue hardship, you may want to suggest other options.
If you do not think your employer had a valid reason to deny your request, or the employer will not tell you why the request was denied, you can appeal the decision by going up the chain of command, filing a grievance with your union if you have one, or filing a complaint with the EEOC or your state enforcing agency.
For information regarding the complaint process, visit http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm.
For a list of state enforcing agencies, visit http://askjan.org/links/enforcement.htm.
The duty to provide reasonable accommodation is an ongoing one so you can ask for more than one accommodation if needed. An employer must consider each request for reasonable accommodation on a case by case basis.
According to the EEOC, individuals who oppose unlawful employment discrimination, participate in employment discrimination proceedings, or otherwise assert their rights under the laws enforced by the EEOC are protected against retaliation. Therefore, if your employer retaliates against you for requesting an accommodation, you should report the retaliation to someone higher up in the company or agency or contact the EEOC immediately.