Can an employer deny an ADA reasonable accommodation request?

The Americans with Disabilities Act establishes certain requirements for employers regarding accommodations for employees with disabilities. One of these requirements applies to whether an employer may deny a disabled employee’s request for an accomodation.

Employers must usually grant an employee’s accommodation requests unless it would “impose an undue hardship on the operation of its business.” Such laws protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. However, it can be difficult to determine whether an employee’s accommodation request would cause an undue hardship for an employer. An employee requesting a particular accommodation must only demonstrate that it is “reasonable on its face, i.e., ordinarily or in the run of cases.” 

Employers may try to argue that an employee’s accommodation request is unreasonable. That doesn’t mean they are correct in their assessment. An employee whose reasonable accommodation request was denied by an employer should consult with a San Diego employment law attorney. A lawyer can review the case and determine if an employee has grounds to take legal action.

What to Do If An Employer Denies an ADA Reasonable Accommodation Request

Again, the law establishes that employers may not deny requests from employees with disabilities when they ask for reasonable accommodations. Whether an accommodation request qualifies as reasonable is up to interpretation.

Types of requests that may qualify as reasonable include the following:

  • Requests that do not require employers to devote substantial time and/or funds to accommodate a worker’s needs.
  • Requests that involve minimal use of additional equipment or technology to accommodate (for example, providing an employee with a large-font version of the employee handbook to accommodate vision problems)

There are also times when a request may qualify as reasonable even if it requires using substantial equipment or technology. 

Specific examples of potential reasonable accommodation requests include: 

  • Asking for reserved parking if a disability would make it difficult for an employee to walk to their workplace;
  • Requesting a more flexible work schedule if a disability warrants making such an adjustment;
  • Asking for basic changes that can improve access to the workplace. For example, this may involve installing door ramps when doors are somewhat elevated from the ground level.

However, it’s important to remember that each working environment is unique. That means those who evaluate whether a request is reasonable must do so on a case-by-case basis. A request that may be reasonable in a basic office setting might not necessarily be reasonable at a construction company.

This subjective quality often provides employers with the means to deny requests. Luckily, an employee has options if an employer denies a request for an accommodation. An employee can seek to demonstrate that the denial of their request constitutes a violation of the law.

This can be challenging for employees who don’t have much experience in these matters. Showing that an employer broke the law when denying a request may involve conducting research into past cases and precedents. This is key to building a strong argument based on genuine legal principles indicating why a request should have been granted.

This is why it is smart for employees to seek assistance from attorneys in these circumstances. A lawyer familiar with these matters can help them more effectively state their case. 

Keep this in mind if you have a disability and you suspect your employer unfairly denied a reasonable accommodation request. It may still be possible to have your request granted. This is often more likely to occur when you have legal representation.

To learn more, call our San Diego law firm at (619) 693-7727 or contact us online.