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Reasonable accommodation and avoiding disability discrimination

| Jan 18, 2021 | Firm News

Allegations of discrimination can threaten nearly every aspect of your business. A lawsuit can result in damage to your bottom line, and unfounded allegations can threaten your business reputation, thus hurting your operations. But if you’re reading this post then you’re probably concerned about being accused of discrimination of some sort. One of the more often overlooked forms of discrimination is disability discrimination. Employers who fail to heed this type of discrimination can be enormous consequences, though, which is why we encourage you to read further to see how you can try to avoid litigation related to such allegations.

Know about reasonable accommodations

Under federal law, many employers are subjected to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law seeks to ensure that those with disabilities are afforded equal employment opportunities despite their physical limitations. As such, employers who fall under the ADA are required to make reasonable accommodations to those disabled individuals who request them.

These accommodations can be broad and wide-ranging, affecting every aspect of the employment process. A blind applicant might request a braille-based application, or a wheel-chair bound employee might request a ramp so that he or she has appropriate access to the building where he or she works. These examples are reasonable in nature, and so, too, are other requests pertaining to access, work schedule, work tasks, and maybe even the equipment used.

Undue burden

In order to protect yourself as fully as possible, if you feel like an accommodation request is unreasonable, then you might want to offer more reasonable alternatives and continue the conversation with your worker. Only after this conversation is had without any agreement should you claim that the request poses an undue burden.

An undue burden exists if the request that is made is too expensive or interferes with normal business operations to a great extent. This means that you’ll want to carefully consider the cost of the requested accommodation in light of your business’s resources, as well as how the accommodation may affect other’s job duties or your business’s ability to service customers. Be sure to have internal conversations about the justifications for denying a reasonable accommodations request so that in the event of legal action you already have strong legal arguments to support your position.

Other ways of preventing disability discrimination

Complying with the ADA is a great first step toward avoiding disability discrimination, but there are a lot of other things that you can do, too. You can make sure to address disability discrimination in your company’s policies and ensure that workers, especially those in management and supervisory position, receive training on how to avoid disability discrimination. You can also have all employees sign off on pertinent policies. You should also try to be as proactive as possible in investigating complaints and taking action to stop any behavior or inaction that may be seen as discriminatory in nature.

Facing legal action

If you’re already facing legal action, then you need to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself. This may mean speaking with witnesses and gathering relevant documents that support your position, but it might also mean engaging in negotiations with the aggrieved party. Settling a case can be cheaper and save your business reputation to a greater extent. Of course, that might not be your best option, especially if you’ve got a strong enough defense to take your case to trial.

The important thing to remember is that being proactive is the best way to protect yourself when it comes to employment law matters. If you’d like to learn more about how to do that or how to push back against a legal claim, now is the time to speak with an experienced legal professional of your choosing.

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