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What Counts as “Undue Hardship” for an Employer?

In many instances, if an employee has some form of disability, he or she may request that an employer provide reasonable accommodation to allow him or her to do his or her job effectively. For many individuals, the laws that ensure this right offer important protections that ensure they can participate in the workforce fully.

However, not all disabilities must receive the same level of accommodation from an employer, under the law. If an employee claims to have a disability that is not properly supported by the law, or if the accommodation that the employee requests places an undue hardship on the employer, then the employer may not have to meet the request.

It is not always easy to determine what is and is not an undue hardship for an employer. In very broad strokes, it generally comes down to the cost or practical feasibility of the request, the documentable validity of the requester’s disability and the cost of implementing the accommodation.

For instance, a very small employer with limited resources may not be able to pay for an elevator to accommodate an employee who suffers from difficulty walking or climbing stairs. While the request may be reasonable in some instances, especially if the requesting employee uses a wheelchair, the expense of the accommodation may simply be too great for the employer to bear.

If you have concerns about an accommodation that you request from your employer, you may need to look at the issue carefully through the eyes of the law. Detailed scrutiny of the request and the burden it places on your employer may give you insight into how to resolve the issue equitably and still protect your rights and privileges in the workplace.

Source: Findlaw, “The Employer’s Duty to Accommodate,” accessed March 30, 2018

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