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Thursday, March 19, 2015

From Diagnosis to Disability: Reasonable Accommodation Can Help Keep You At Work

Reasonable accommodation is a right established by the Americans with Disability Act or “ADA.”  The ADA says that an employer cannot discriminate against an employee who is able to perform the essential functions of a position with or without reasonable accommodation.  There are enough concepts stuffed into that one phrase that multi-volume treatises can, and have, been written about the meaning of each of the words.  This post can only give the most basic introduction to the law of this area, but it will give you some idea of how the reasonable accommodation part of this law can help you keep working.

The ADA requires employers to eliminate job functions that are not essential functions of the job or modify the way they are performed, so long as the employee can still perform the essential functions of the position.  When an accommodation will be considered “reasonable” depends crucially on the particular job.  Eliminating a requirement of lifting a boiler might be reasonable if the workplace has several other employees who can do it instead, but it might not be reasonable if the employee works alone.  

Among the types of reasonable accommodations that are helpful to those with cognitive and physical degenerative positions include:

  • A later start time if medications or a condition make it difficult to get up in the morning;
  • A place to take a nap in the afternoon;
  • Communicating with a supervisor by email if oral instructions are difficult to organize;
  • Work at home, full-time or part-time, which is one of the most useful accommodations, but one of the hardest ones to get;
  • Elimination of travel;
  • No required overtime.

Many of these can be difficult to get, especially since many employer still don’t realize how much the ADA requires them to do to accommodate disabilities.  For instance, an employer in Fairfield County recently refused working from home as a reasonable accommodation because “then everyone will want it then.”  Giving something to someone with a disability that everyone else doesn’t get is the essence of a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.  Connecticut 

Requesting reasonable accommodation can also put you in a better position when you apply for long-term disability benefits or in appealing a denial of long-term disability benefits.  I will discuss the issue in my next post, but make sure you consider the effect on your long-term disability insurance claim or appeal while discussing reasonable accommodation with your employer.  

Having a lawyer to negotiate reasonable accommodation can be useful, as a lawyer can remind employers what they are required to do, and advise you about what is possible under federal and Connecticut state law, especially one who can handle the accommodation request in a way to put you in the best position possible in a Connecticut long-term disability claim or Connecticut long-term disability appeal.  This blog will discuss other issues involving the ADA and reasonable accommodation, and their effect on long-term disability insurance claims.  Make sure you, and your lawyer, keep it in mind as a way for you to keep working for as long as you want to before you have to apply for disability benefits.  

Other Posts in the Diagnosis to Disability

Diagnosis to LTD Application: Six Things to Consider

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for writing this post. I had no clue about the reasonable accommodations. I am learning so much. I have a long-term disability and sometimes you just want to cry because the process can get so aggravating. I am grateful for people like you who will take time and share this valuable information with others in need.

    Tyron Tanaka @ Low And Canata