As a business owner, you likely realize that you cannot discriminate against job applicants or employees on the basis of their respective disabilities. In fact, you must provide reasonable accommodations for them so that they can perform their job duties. But what constitutes reasonable accommodation?
As you might expect, “reasonable accommodation” has no one hard-and-fast definition. It depends on your particular workplace and the employee’s particular disability. The ADA National Network lists the following as some examples of reasonable accommodations:
- Workplace and work area accessibility
- Accessible reserved parking
- Flexible work schedule, if needed
- Allowance of a service animal if the disabled person has one
- Installation of any special equipment, software, etc. that (s)he needs
- Appropriate instructional and testing methods
Remember, per the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disabled person is one who has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (sometimes referred to in the regulations as an “actual disability”).” (S)he must also possess the requisite qualifications to perform the essential functions of the job for which you hire him or her. You can determine a job’s essential functions by asking and answering such questions as the following:
- Does this position exist solely to perform certain tasks?
- How many other employees do you have who perform these tasks?
- How much skill or expertise does it take to perform these tasks?
Keep in mind that you may not need to provide reasonable accommodations if your company employs fewer than 15 people and/or if providing the reasonable accommodations would pose an undue hardship for your business.