What should a company do to accommodate a disabled worker?

Connecticut Super Lawyers
Jacques J. Parenteau

The Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA] specifies failure to provide a ‘reasonable accommodation’ as illegal discrimination. Under the ADA, a reasonable accommodation is defined as environmental employment changes designed to allow a disable worker to perform essential job functions.

Changes may include restructuring or modifying work schedules; reassignment; equipment modification; appropriate adjustment of examination, training materials or policies; the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations. The employee must inform the employer of the nature of his or her condition and state how it affects the employment opportunity.

Once the employee communicates a need, the employer must engage in an interactive process to determine if the request is reasonable, whether alternative accommodations may be afforded or whether the changes impose and undue hardship on the employer. Unless the requested accommodation is unreasonable or imposes financial hardship, the employer must provide the accommodation.

Any employer who fails to engage in dialogue with the employee violates the law. It is important that the employee disclose the condition that impairs his or her ability to perform essential functions of the position in order to trigger the employer’s obligation to engage in dialogue.