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Accommodation of a disability

What kind of employer actions are required to reasonably accommodate job applicants and employees with disabilities?

Examples of reasonable accommodation include:

  • Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by an individual with a disability.
  • Restructuring a job.
  • Modifying work schedules.
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment that helps the employee do the essential functions of the job.
  • Appropriately modifying examinations, training, or other programs.

Reasonable accommodation may include reassigning a current employee to a vacant position for which the individual is qualified, if the person becomes disabled and is unable to do the original job. There is no obligation to find a position for a job applicant who is not qualified for the position sought. Employers are not required to lower quality or quantity standards in order to make an accommodation. Employers are not obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.

The decision about what constitutes an appropriate accommodation is fact specific. The law requires the employer to have more than a perfunctory conversation about possible reasonable accommodations. Unless the requested accommodation creates an undue hardship for the employer, which is a high standard of proof, the employer and employee should be able to negotiate a mutually acceptable accommodation.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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