Main Menu

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION: 10 tips on reasonable accommodations


The recent amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act broadly expanded the definition of “disability” under the Act, making it harder to determine when and how to provide reasonable accommodations.

Tips to live by

Below are 10 tips to consider when determining whether you need to provide a reasonable accommodation in particular circumstances. Because accommodations should be determined on a case-by-case basis, apply these tips as necessary, and the process will be less burdensome.

  1. The employee has the initial burden of requesting or identifying the need for an accommodation, but it helps to follow this up by asking the employee what he believes will help accommodate his disability.
  2. Any accommodation proposed by an employee must be objectively reasonable. There are valuable resources to help you establish a list of potential accommodations. One free resource is the Job Accommodation Network, which is available by calling (800) 526-7234.
  3. Ensure that the position in question has defined essential and nonessential functions. If you haven’t already done so, draft or review all job descriptions to ensure accurate descriptions of actual job duties and correctly identify the essential and nonessential job responsibilities.
  4. Review job descriptions to assess the skills and competencies required to perform the essential job functions. If any technical skill or expertise is required, identify it. If there are any specific expectations, goals or quotas, they should be referenced.
  5. In every case, engage in (and document) an interactive process with the affected employee to identify any potential reasonable accommodation.
  6. When disputes arise, consider using a mediator to help develop accommodations that are reasonable.
  7. When job restructuring is requested or considered, it’s important to remember that you must consider the request only with respect to a position’s nonessential duties or marginal functions. Restructuring essential job functions is not required, even if an employee claims it is “reasonable” to do so.
  8. You are not required to create a new job, move another employee, promote a disabled employee, or deprive any other employee of rights under a collective bargaining agreement to provide a reasonable accommodation.
  9. When appropriate, conduct a functional assessment of the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of a position, noting any specific limitations that can be evaluated for potential accommodations.
  10. When necessary, create, retain and regularly update a list of available state or private vocational rehabilitation counselors, job coaches, and employment consultants in your area who could assist in determining if a reasonable accommodation is possible.

Bottom line

Having these tips ready and available will help you navigate the reasonable accommodation process. It also reflects and provides evidence of your good-faith efforts to comply with the law.

If you have any questions or need help, please contact any member of the Greenebaum Doll & McDonald Labor and Employment Department. 

Copyright 2011 M. Lee Smith Publishers LLC 
KENTUCKY EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER does not attempt to offer solutions to individual problems but rather to provide information about current developments in Kentucky employment law. Questions about individual problems should be addressed to the employment law attorney of your choice.


Back to Page