How to Talk to Your Employer about Reasonable Accommodation
Two of the central provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are the dual requirements that employers not discriminate against employees or applicants with disabilities as long as they can perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation and that employers provide such accommodations upon request. Beyond the clear purpose of preventing discrimination, the intent of these provisions was to promote dialog between employer and employee regarding what that employee needs to be an effective contributor.
As an employee with a disability, it is important for you to realize, however, that the burden of starting this dialog often falls to you. While many employers are proactive in this regard, it is usually a choice, not a requirement. Therefore, if you are having difficulty at work due to a disability, it is usually wise to talk to your employer about it and keep a couple of things in mind while doing so:
- Be able to describe your disability and the limitations it creates — Not every physical ailment meets the legal definition of disability, so it is important to describe your condition and how it affects you — both at work and otherwise. A note from a doctor can sometimes be helpful.
- Be able to identify the precise difficulties you are having — Be prepared to describe what aspects of your job have become problematic. This can make it easier to identify the reasonable accommodations that may be available.
- Have suggestions for possible accommodations — Your employer does not have to provide the specific accommodation you request if other effective options are available. However, many employers grant requested accommodations as long as they are reasonable. If not, it at least creates a starting point and shows that you are engaged.
If your employer refuses to make any accommodation or provides one you believe is inadequate, it may be time to consult an experienced Florida ADA attorney.