The duty to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified individual with a disability is considered one of the most important statutory requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Under the ADA, an employer with 15 or more employees is required to provide a covered job applicant or employee with a reasonable accommodation, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship (i.e., significant difficulty or expense) or direct threat. A reasonable accommodation requires that steps be taken to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the position. Reasonable accommodation further includes the employer’s reasonable efforts to assist the employee and to communicate with the employee in good faith. In the reasonable-accommodation context, the ADA envisions an interactive process by which employers and employees work together to assess whether an employee’s disability can be reasonably accommodated. The interactive process is an informal practice in which the covered individual and the employer determine the precise limitations created by the disability and how best to respond to the need for accommodation.
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