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What makes a disability accommodation at work reasonable?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2021 | Disability Discrimination

Disabled workers form an important part of the California and American workforce. Men and women with all types of abilities and skills contribute to the important work that their employers require. Workers with disabilities can require accommodations, however, to ensure that they have the tools they need to do their jobs.

Under the law, some disabled workers may be entitled to reasonable accommodations from their employers for their work. This post will discuss reasonableness in the context of workplace accommodations, but readers are reminded that this post does not provide legal guidance. When questions regarding accommodations and disability discrimination come up at work, individuals are encouraged to speak with employment law attorneys they know and trust.

The right to reasonable accommodations

As stated, many workers are entitled to reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This federal law requires certain employers to provide their disabled workers with reasonable tools to help them do their jobs. Depending on the type of disability a worker has, their accommodation can look different. Workers should be prepared to discuss their needs for accommodation with their employers to ensure that their needs are adequately and appropriately communicated.

It is important for workers to remember that not all employers must comply with the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Individuals may speak with their attorneys about whether their employment situations support their claims for reasonable accommodations.

What makes an accommodation reasonable?

Reasonableness can differ depending on the employer and what is asked of it by a disabled employee. A large company may have significantly more resources to ensure that its disabled workforce has the accommodations required for workers to do their jobs. Expensive accommodations may be harder for smaller businesses to acquire even if those accommodations are needed for their disabled workers.

When determining if an accommodation is reasonable, several factors may be examined. As mentioned, the cost of the accommodation and the size of the company are relevant to determinations of reasonableness.  The impact that the accommodation would have on the workplace, in addition to the way that company is structured, may also be relevant to a reasonableness evaluation. When an accommodation becomes an undue burden on an employer, the employer may be excused from providing it to a disabled employee.

Addressing discrimination at work

Burdensome accommodations that are cost prohibitive for small businesses may understandably be denied as reasonable for disabled workers. Unfortunately, some employers attempt to show that reasonable accommodations should be determined burdensome so that they do not have to pay for them. When this happens, employers may violate anti-discrimination laws and harm their disabled workers.

Addressing disability issues, including discrimination and reasonable accommodations, in the workplace can be difficult. Workers should remember that they can always seek the advice of trusted employment law attorneys for help.


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