We Protect Workers

Is one conversation enough to establish reasonable accommodation?

Whether you got hurt on the job or had a medical event unrelated to your employment, you might suddenly need a little help to keep performing your tasks. When a worker has a condition that affects their work performance, they typically have the right to ask their employer to help them.

Most companies with at least 15 workers will have to offer reasonable accommodations for employees with verifiable medical conditions. Asking your employer for accommodations isn’t easy, especially if they are resistant to meeting you halfway.

Some companies discriminate against workers with disabling medical conditions instead of helping them. If your employer has simply had one brief meeting with you or reviewed an initial medical report, is that enough of an attempt to accommodate you?

Accommodating an injured worker often requires ongoing dialogue

If you have a condition that affects your ability to remain seated, a medical recommendation for alternating job responsibilities or a requirement for 10 minutes out of your chair every hour might be the initial accommodation you request.

However, those recommendations might change depending on how you respond to the initial accommodation. It may turn out to not be enough, or you might even be able to reduce the number of breaks you need. You may need to change or adjust accommodations several times to minimize the impact of your condition on your work.

The same kind of flexibility is necessary with requests for assistive technology. A worker may need to try different settings and systems before they find something that works for them. An employer should continue to check in with a worker to see how previous efforts have gone. Workers should also do their best to communicate proactively to employers when their accommodation needs change.

Medical documentation of needs helps justify your request

If you don’t have diagnostic paperwork showing that you have a condition or written recommendations from your physician asking for specific employer accommodations, your employer could very well deny your request.

Rather than going directly to your employer to ask for a different approach or more accommodation, it will likely work better for you if you see your physician first to discuss the shortcomings of the current solution. That way, any requests for changes will have medical documentation supporting the request.

If your employer won’t work with you or tries to retaliate against you for asserting your basic rights as a worker with a disability, you may need to stand up to that unfair disability discrimination by taking legal action.