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What does reasonable accommodations mean for disabled workers?

Many members of the West Virginia workforce experience some form of disability. The kinds of disabilities vary widely and may include physical, cognitive, mental and other impairments. Most West Virginia residents want to be employed and this includes those dealing with a disability. Congress responded to the needs of the disabled population in 1990 by passing the Americans with Disabilities Act. This vital piece of legislation requires employers to make "reasonable accommodations" for these workers so that they may participate in the nation's workforce.

One of the possible problems with the ADA is the potential for disparity between how employees and employers interpret reasonable accommodations. An employer's duty to provide such accommodation does not mean he or she must employ any disabled worker no matter what. However, the employer is required to provide such accommodation if the employee is qualified for the job.

Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

-- Altering the work environment to support a disabled worker

-- Modifying a disabled worker's employment schedule

-- Installing access for those confined to a wheelchair

-- Reconfiguring equipment, furniture and machinery

With that said, there are times when an employer may not be required to employ a disabled worker. This is called undue hardship under the ADA and it refers to situations that may cause the employer "significant difficulty or expense." In other words, if a business or employer is not equipped to manage the financial costs or other aspects of providing accommodations, the business may be exempt from the duty to accommodate.

If you are concerned that your employer's failure to provide reasonable accommodations may actually be workplace discrimination, there are legal actions at your disposal. To find out more about your case, you might consider talking with an employment attorney who serves the West Virginia population.

Source: FindLaw, "The Employer's Duty to Accommodate," accessed Aug. 01, 2016

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