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Published: 2008-03-26

EEOC Issues Guidance On Reasonable Accommodation



On March 1, 1999, the EEOC issued a comprehensive enforcement guidance on reasonable accommodation and undue hardship under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). It also released a shorter version entitled, "Small Employers and Reasonable Accommodation."

In general, the guidance describes the EEOC's position on an employer's legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodation. It should be noted that the EEOC's position is not necessarily what a court might require.

Specifically, the guidance addresses:

-The responsibility of an individual with a disability to request reasonable accommodation, when the individual may be excused and the way an employer should respond to a request;

-The circumstances under which employers may ask for documentation demonstrating the need for reasonable accommodation and/or when the employer can require an independent medical exam;

-What accommodations are required for job applicants;

-What accommodations are considered reasonable in providing access to employer-sponsored training programs, services (such as the office cafeteria), and social functions;

-More detailed information on specific types of reasonable accommodation, including job restructuring, unpaid leave, modified or part-time schedules, modified workplace policies, and reassignment;

-The relationship between an employer's obligation to provide leave as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA and its obligations under the Family and Medical Leave Act;

-Changes that employers are not required to make to a job, such as lowering production standards or removing a primary job duty or changing an employee's supervisor; and

-Those instances in which employers may deny a request for a reasonable accommodation because it imposes an "undue hardship" (for example, when an accommodation would disrupt or prevent other employees from doing their jobs).

The long form of guidance is available from the Internet at www.eeoc.gov/docs/accommodation.html. The short form for small employers is also available from the Internet at www.eeoc.gov/facts/accommodation.html.