Job Supports and Accommodations

Reasonable Accommodations

A reasonable accommodation is any kind of change or adjustment to the hiring process, job functions, work environment, or use of assistive technology that makes it possible for a qualified jobseeker or employee with a disability to have an equal opportunity to apply for employment, perform important job duties, meet employment standards, or enjoy the same benefits of employment as co-workers without disabilities.

When Do You Have the Legal Right to an Accommodation?

To have the right to an accommodation under the ADA, you must:

  • Work for an employer with 15 or more employees (or a state or local government)
  • Be a person with disability or history of a disability as defined in the ADA, and
  • Need the accommodation because of your disability.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mean that if you work for a private employer with five or more employees or you are a federal employee, you have the right to an accommodation. Plus, the definition of a disability is broader under California's FEHA.

If you are covered by these laws, they will protect your right to reasonable accommodations in most situations. You must, however, ask for an accommodation. In fact, if you don’t request an accommodation and your job performance suffers, your employer has the right to fire you or take disciplinary action.

While you have the right to reasonable accommodations, you don’t necessarily have the right to get the particular accommodation you ask for. If there are other accommodations that will meet your needs, your employer is free to choose among those effective options. Also, your employer can deny your request for an accommodation if it would cause the employer an undue hardship.

You can always request an accommodation even if you do not meet all of the ADA eligibility conditions. For example, if you do not meet the ADA's definition of disability, you may want to discuss your need for an accommodation with your employer anyway; your employer may offer to work with you to find an accommodation, even if the ADA doesn’t require it.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
  • Making the workspace accessible by ensuring that there is a ramp or elevators
  • Restructuring large assignments by dividing them into smaller tasks
  • Modifying work schedules by allowing for longer breaks
  • Providing qualified interpreters to facilitate communication with deaf employees
  • Offering an adjustable height desk that allows an employee to either stand or sit while working

The following are not considered forms of reasonable accommodation and therefore are not required under the ADA:

  • Removing or eliminating an essential function from a job
  • Lowering production standards
  • Offering items, such as a prosthetic limb, a wheelchair, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or similar devices, if they are also needed for personal use off the job

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