Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), if you have a disability your employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for you, unless it would cause your employer an undue hardship. What’s the best way to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer?
A person who desires an accommodation needs to let the employer know that she or he needs an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. A request for an accommodation can be made by the employee or by his or her representative, such as a family member, friend, health professional, or attorney.
How Do You Need to Request a Reasonable Accommodation?
At a minimum, a person who desires an accommodation must request it verbally. The request can be made using “plain English” and doesn’t need to mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation.”
While these are the minimum requirements, ideally the request will be in writing to make it more official and also so the writing can serve as clear evidence of the request at a later time, if needed. It’s also best specifically to mention the ADA and the phrase “reasonable accommodation” and any other words that help describe your medical situation and your specific need for an accommodation.
Some employers might ask their employees to fill out a specific form for requesting an accommodation, which is acceptable, so long as they don’t ignore a prior request.
What Should You Include in Your Request for a Reasonable Accommodation?
You should include information explaining what disability you have, how it limits your ability to work effectively, and what specific measures your employer might take to help you work as effectively as you can. Your employer doesn’t necessarily have to adopt the measures you suggest, but your suggestions can serve as a starting point for the conversation.
When Should You Request a Reasonable Accommodation?
You can request an accommodation at any time during the application process or during your employment. It’s okay to request an accommodation once you’re employed, even if you did not during the application process.
May Your Employer Ask You to Provide Documentation Regarding Your Medical Issue?
Yes, if the disability or need for an accommodation is not obvious, then an employer may ask for reasonable documentation to show what your disability is and what your limitations are. However, the employer may require documentation only regarding the disability, not regarding information unrelated to it or your need for an accommodation.
Ideally, when you submit your request in writing you’ll provide documentation to your employer from a qualified, appropriate professional. An appropriate professional might include a doctor, psychologist, physical therapist, speech therapist, or anyone else who’s qualified to provide an opinion regarding your disability and need for an accommodation.
May Your Employer Require You to Be Examined by a Health Care Professional of Its Choice?
Yes, but only if you provide insufficient information from your chosen professional to show you have an ADA disability and need a reasonable accommodation. Also, your employer should give you an opportunity to provide any missing information before requiring you to visit the professional of its choice.
How Soon Must Your Employer Respond to Your Request for a Reasonable Accommodation?
There’s no specific timeline required. An employer should respond as quickly as possible. If needed, the employer should engage in an “interactive process” quickly to determine your needs and how it can meet them. Unnecessary delays can become a violation of the ADA.
Contact me if you have questions about requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability, or if you would like help requesting an accommodation.