I received a doctor’s note for an employee that says, ‘…saw the employee today and she can return to work, but the patient needs to be able to work from home until further notice.’ I know reasonable accommodations are required for a qualified disability, but I have no other information than that. What should I do?Many of us are familiar with the term reasonable job accommodations as part of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Several states have their own laws mimicking the ADA which would be impossible for us to address in a single article. But we haven’t talked about the ADA lately, so I asked Elizabeth Bolduc, an associate attorney with Bugbee & Conkle, LLP to share her expertise. She focuses her work in the areas of labor and employment law. Please remember that Elizabeth’s comments shouldn’t be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to any specific factual situations. If you have detailed questions, they should be addressed with your friendly neighborhood labor and employment attorney. Elizabeth, welcome to HR Bartender. Obviously, we can’t address all of the state laws that are similar to the ADA. But from a federal standpoint, what are reasonable job accommodations? [Bolduc] The term ‘reasonable accommodation’ comes from Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ‘ADA’). The ADA requires employers to provide ‘reasonable accommodations’ to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities unless doing so would create an undue hardship or direct threat to others or themselves in the workplace. A reasonable accommodation is essentially a modification or change in the workplace, including to an individual’s position or a workplace policy, to enable an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Are employers required to provide reasonable job accommodations? And if so, under what circumstances?
- A disabled employee or applicant requests an accommodation, or
- When the employer becomes aware that a disabled employee needs an accommodation to perform their job.
- Making existing facilities accessible; acquiring or modifying equipment;
- Reassignment to a vacant position; part-time or modified work schedules;
- Changing tests, training materials, or policies;
- Providing qualified interpreters;
- Job restructuring; reallocating or altering marginal job duties that a disabled employee is unable to perform; and
- Leaving to obtain medical treatment.