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Do you need an accommodation at work in order to do your job?

You may be among the many New York residents looking for employment. Despite your disability, you know that you can perform the duties of the job you want, but you just need a modification or change in the work environment in order to do so.

The question is whether your prospective boss will provide you with the help you need to succeed in your chosen career path. You may have heard that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to those with disabilities, but you aren't quite sure what that means.

Who qualifies for a reasonable accommodation?

Before you tell a prospective employer that you could do the job and do it well if he or she would only provide you with a reasonable accommodation, you need to make sure that you qualify for one under the ADA. If you suffer from a mental or physical condition that significantly limits your ability to engage in at least one major life activity, then you may meet the act's definition of an actual disability.

If your future employer cannot visually identify your disability, he or she may request documentation from your medical care providers before agreeing to provide you with the accommodation. You should also know that an employer does not have to provide you with an accommodation if it would create an undue hardship on the business. What this means often depends on the individual circumstances. Moreover, you must have the qualifications to perform the essential functions of the job.

What else does the ADA say about reasonable accommodations?

As a general rule, companies with at least 15 employees must provide reasonable accommodations when able for an employee with a disability. The reasonableness of an accommodation depends on a variety of factors, but the following list contains examples of what is often considered reasonable:

  • Reassigning you to a vacant position
  • Changing your job duties
  • Providing you with a service or aid for better access
  • Reserving you a parking space
  • Allowing you a flexible work schedule
  • Improving accessibility to your work area
  • Adjusting a product, software or equipment for you
  • Providing you with certain products, software or equipment
  • Changing the presentation of training materials or tests

You may need a different type of accommodation in order to do your job, and your employer must evaluate whether providing it is feasible and reasonable. If your employer claims that one type of accommodation would cause an undue hardship, it is not necessarily the end of the story. Other alternatives could work just as well and not cause your employer any hardship.

If your employer refuses to consider giving you a reasonable accommodation, you may have legal options, especially if you qualify for one under the act.

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