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What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2018 | Firm News

America has long prided itself on diversity, freedom of religion, and equality. However, our country is still fighting its roots of slavery, Native American eradication, and subjugation of women. America’s past continues to haunt us to this day, particularly in respect to the workplace. Workplace discrimination occurs in many forms, such as refusing to hire a certain individual because of their race, not promoting an employee because of their gender, and making fun of an employee because of his or her disability or religion. Harassment and unfavorable employment decision, such as not providing a deserved raise, affect thousands of Chicago employees on a daily basis. Another form of discrimination that many are faced with is the employer’s failure to provide a reasonable accommodation that the employee’s protected characteristics or religion may demand.

For example, a prior case ruled that a clothing chain could not bar a Muslim employee from wearing a Hijab and had to accommodate that religious practice.

Examples of Common Reasonable Accommodations

A reasonable accommodation is when an employer acknowledges the employee’s need for some adjustment to his/her job duties or a policy that the employer would ordinarily want the employee to follow, while balancing that accommodation with the employer’s legitimate business needs, which fall under their protected status. Reasonable accommodations can include something tangible such as a hand railing in the bathroom, as well as something like freedom to adjust their work schedule to meet a medical need or religious practice. For example, the following are types of reasonable accommodations.

  • Allowing a female employee who has recently given birth reasonable break time to breastfeed or express milk (other laws under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also mandate this right according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission);
  • Providing a religious employee certain days off from work in order for them to practice their religion;
  • Putting in a wheelchair ramp or widening a door frame;
  • Purchasing software for a blind employee.

Employer’s Claim of Undue Hardship

Not all requests for accommodation will be considered reasonable where the request, such as an adjustment to a work schedule/routine or purchase of an expensive device or remodel will cause the employer undue hardship. For example, an employer may make the claim that they did not hire a disabled person because the cost of training, or eliminating essential duties of that position would cause them undue hardship, according to the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations.

Reach Out to a Chicago Workplace Discrimination Lawyer Today

Employment discrimination against those who ask for or demand a reasonable accommodation happens all the time in Chicago. To ensure that your rights as an employee or applicant are not trampled by your employer, you need to contact the Chicago employment discrimination attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich today.