Reasonable accommodations in the workplace can be difficult to define. When is accommodation unreasonable? What are some examples of reasonable accommodations that can help when someone has a disability? These questions often lead to arguments and confusion. This blog post will discuss what is not considered a reasonable accommodation and how you can avoid making these mistakes.
1. Accommodations that Cause Undue Hardship to the Company
An accommodation is considered “unreasonable” if it creates an undue hardship for the company. An example of an accommodation that would cause an undue hardship includes, but is not limited to, lowering or changing production standards or creating high additional costs for the employer. If the requested accommodation places a significant financial burden on your business, it may be unreasonable. However, if the financial costs can be reduced or shared with another department of your business, then the proposed accommodation may be reasonable.
2. Accommodations that Violate Health and Safety Policies
Employers are not required to violate health and safety policies to accommodate an employee. For example, employers are not required to provide accommodation for an employee with a contagious disease if the company’s health and safety policies prohibit employees from working with anyone who has an infectious disease.
3. Accommodations that Result in Discrimination
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against someone because of their disability. This means employers cannot treat an individual with a disability less favorably than a non-disabled individual. Furthermore, employers cannot provide reasonable accommodation to a non-disabled person that they have not provided to an individual with a disability. For example, if the company is willing to allow any employee who has childcare or eldercare responsibilities to work from home during the summer months due to high temperatures, it would be discriminatory to deny an individual with a disability the same opportunity.
However, employers are allowed to refuse certain accommodations if they can prove that another employee is willing to provide the accommodation or if it would cause undue hardship for the company.
4. Accommodations that Violate Federal Law
Sometimes, your proposed accommodation may violate federal law instead of being considered an undue hardship for the company. For example, if law prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals and the proposed accommodation results in discrimination, then it is considered unreasonable. It is also considered unreasonable if the proposed accommodation violates another federal law or regulation, such as one that regulates workplace safety and health issues or employees’ privacy rights.
Remember: If your proposed accommodation violates federal law, it is considered unreasonable, and your employer is not required to provide it.
5. Accommodations that go Against the Company’s Policy or Employment Contract
Sometimes, a company policy or employment contract may prohibit providing an employee with a disability with reasonable accommodation. In this case, unless the policy or contract prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals, your employer will not be required to provide the accommodation. For example, suppose the company’s policy requires employees to work on weekends and accommodate any requests for time off during weekdays. In that case, they may refuse to allow you to work only part-time hours because doing so would violate their policy.
Although your employer is allowed to enforce company policies or employment contracts if they prohibit providing you with a reasonable accommodation, they are required to accommodate you to the fullest extent possible. For example, if your employer requires employees to work on weekends but does not require them to work full-time hours during weekdays, they would be required to provide you with part-time hours instead of refusing to allow you any time off.
So remember: If your proposed accommodation violates the company’s policy or employment contract, it is considered unreasonable, and your employer is not required to provide it.
Your employer is allowed to provide you with accommodation of your choice only if it doesn’t create an undue hardship for them and is not discriminatory, violative of federal law, or contrary to their policy or employment contract. Since employers are not required to violate company policies or contracts to accommodate employees’ disabilities, you should ask for a reasonable accommodation against the company’s policy or contract.
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