Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

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The Law Gives Employees to Receive Reasonable Accommodations at Work for Religious Beliefs, Disabilities, Pregnancy, and FMLA needs.

Reasonable accommodations are changes and modifications made to the workplace to help employees work when dealing with disabilities, pregnancy, religious beliefs, or family and medical leave needs. Employers can make changes to the workplace or modify the work environment to meet these employees’ needs. The accommodations will also help maintain employee productivity and avoid any form of discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace?

As an employee in the United States, you have the right to ask for and receive reasonable accommodations in most circumstances. Reasonable accommodations provide changes to the workplace to meet your needs. The accommodations may be simple changes, such as allowing you to carry water on the showroom floor. They may be a bit more costly, such as providing a standing station for employees with back problems.

Sometimes, they can include modifications to the floorplan of the office or the accessibility of the bathrooms. Whatever accommodations are needed, employers cannot fire you from work for asking for a reasonable accommodation to meet your needs in the workplace.

Reasonable accommodations often include changes and modifications for people based on the following needs:

What Are Some Examples of Reasonable Accommodations at Work?

The goal of providing reasonable accommodations in the workplace is to make a more inclusive workplace. Employers should not deny you opportunities at work because you have a disability, are pregnant, have a religious need, or need to use FMLA leave. Instead, they should provide reasonable accommodations to ensure all employees receive the same opportunities to succeed at work.

Some examples of reasonable accommodations may include the following:

  • You are seriously injured in a car accident. As a result, you require a cane to walk for several months. Your office does not have any accessible parking in the large parking lot. You ask your employer to put accessible parking spots in the front of the parking lot to make it easier for you to get to and from your car.
  • You are a practicing Muslim. You ask your employer to provide you five prayer breaks during the day and a location to conduct your daily prayers throughout the day.
  • You are pregnant. You cannot stand all day without feeling faint and your feet swelling. You ask your employer for a chair at your station so you can sit as needed. You also request that you can keep a bottle of water with you to drink as needed.
  • You are a nursing mother. You ask your employer to provide you with a nursing room and breaks throughout the day to pump milk for your baby.
  • Your son broke his leg at football practice. He cannot go to school for three weeks. You need FMLA accommodations to stay home with him three days a week for the next three weeks. However, you are willing to work from home during this time.
  • You get migraines from the computer screen glare. You ask your boss to buy anti-glare computer screens to reduce your migraines.
  • Your employer requires all employees to wear uniforms which include short sleeve shirts. You are an orthodox Jewish woman, which requires your elbows to be always covered in public. You request an accommodation to the uniform that you wear a long sleeve shirt under your uniform shirt to meet your religious practices’ needs.
  • You are in your last trimester and must go to prenatal doctor appointments every other week. You request your employer to schedule your work hours around your appointment times. You give him two weeks’ notice of each appointment date and time.

Can Your Boss Deny You a Reasonable Accommodation at Work?

Federal and state laws mandate your boss to accommodate your needs related to disabilities, pregnancy, religion, and FMLA leave. However, under certain circumstances, employers can deny these accommodations. If the accommodations cause an undue hardship, employers can deny your accommodation as requested. However, they must work with you to find another reasonable accommodation to meet your needs without causing your employer an undue hardship.

What Is an Undue Hardship?

An undue hardship occurs when an accommodation will cost the employer an excessive amount of money or become significantly difficult to complete. Each undue hardship must go through an independent evaluation. They are decided on a case-by-case basis.

The following criteria determine whether an accommodation makes an undue hardship for the employer:

  • The business resources
  • The business size
  • The nature of the accommodation
  • The cost of the accommodation
  • The business structure

When your boss claims a requested accommodation creates an undue hardship, they must find a new accommodation that helps you and provides an inclusive workplace.

Can Your Employer Deny an Accommodation to Punish You for Causing Problems at Work?

Federal and state laws require businesses to provide reasonable accommodations to employees. Therefore, anyone who needs accommodations for a disability, pregnancy, religion, or FMLA leave should receive accommodations under almost all circumstances.

When you report discrimination, sexual harassment, or any other employment issues to your boss, HR, or the proper agency, your employer cannot retaliate against you. Therefore, they cannot deny your accommodations as a form of retaliation.

If your employer attempts to deny your accommodations as a form of retaliation, contact a qualified employment lawyer to discuss your rights.

Can Your Employer Fire You from Work Instead of Providing Accommodations?

Your employer can fire you from work for almost any reason. They can fire you because you are not a good fit. They can fire you because they do not like your work product. Most employers are at-will employers, meaning they can fire you at any time, and you can quit at any time.

However, you cannot get fired from work because you requested reasonable accommodation. If your employer fires you because you requested a reasonable accommodation, it is wrongful termination.

Wrongful termination occurs when your employer breaks the law and fires you out of retaliation or because of your status in a protected class. Firing you due to your request for accommodations is a direct attack against your rights as a protected class.

Can You Sue Your Employer for Denying You a Reasonable Accommodation?

Several laws protect your right to receive reasonable accommodations at work. If your employer denies you these accommodations, you have a right to file a charge against them. Suppose your employer denies your accommodations for religious practices, pregnancy, or disability. In that case, you can file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the appropriate state agency or court.

If your employer denies your accommodations under the FMLA, you can file a lawsuit in federal or state court as needed.

Contact a qualified employment law attorney to determine the best court and time frame (statute of limitations) to file your claim. Depending on the charge and where you file, you can file your claim within 180 days to several years.

What Is the Average Settlement for Reasonable Accommodation Violations?

When your employer denies you reasonable accommodations at work, you deserve compensation. The courts may offer several remedies for your trouble. Some remedies include financial compensation, such as lost wages, money for pain and suffering, and money for emotional distress. The courts may also require your employer to provide the requested accommodations, update policies and procedures, and rehire you for your position or an equal position.

How Can an Employment Lawyer Help You with Your Claim for Reasonable Accommodation Violations?

As an employee, you have the right to reasonable accommodations for your religious beliefs, disability, pregnancy, or FMLA leave. When your boss denies you these accommodations, you deserve compensation. However, many times, the process is difficult to navigate.

An employment attorney can help you determine the laws best suited for your claim. They can help you file your complaint within the proper time limit with the proper courts and agencies. Most importantly, they can help you negotiate a settlement from the moment you walk into their office to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact Our Discrimination and Employment Lawyers for a Free Consultation.

You deserve reasonable accommodations to help create an inclusive work environment. When your employer denies you these rights, you have the right to seek justice. The Derek Smith Law Group can help.

Did Your Employer Deny You Reasonable Accommodations for Your Disability, Religion, Pregnancy, or FMLA Leave? Do You Want to Know More About Your Rights? Please Call Us at 800.807.2209 to Discuss Your Claim.

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