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Let’s Talk About COVID-19 and Reasonable Accommodations

Updated: Jul 11, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought up a lot of questions about reasonable accommodations.

In this article, we will discuss how COVID-19 affects the ADA's reasonable accommodation requirement and provide some guidance on whether employers need to offer additional accommodations in light of recent events.

When is a Reasonable Accommodation Required?

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. An accommodation is considered reasonable if it doesn't create an undue hardship for the employer, which has been defined as any action that would require significant difficulty or expense on their end.

What Types of Accommodations are Employers Required to Provide?

Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities unless doing so would cause an undue hardship. The type of accommodation will depend on the employee's needs and may include things like modifying policies, procedures, or providing assistive equipment (like a ramp).

What if an Employee Has Preexisting Conditions that Make COVID-19 Riskier?

If a person has preexisting conditions or a disability that puts them at greater risk from COVID-19, their employer may have to engage in the interactive process and attempt to find a reasonable accommodation. For instance, an employer might allow a disabled individual to work from home or in an area with reduced contact with people, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What if a Preexisting Condition has been exacerbated by COVID-19?

Some people, such as those with mental disorders, may find that their existing condition has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if they did not need accommodations to perform their job in the past, the pandemic may have created a need for a new accommodation.

If this is the case, the EEOC recommends that employees work with their employers to find an accommodation that works for both parties. The employee should be prepared to provide documentation of their preexisting condition. Some brainstorming may be necessary for both parties to settle on an accommodation that enables the employee to still perform their job without causing significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

We can help if your employer is denying a request for a reasonable accommodation.

If you feel that you need a reasonable accommodation to perform your job during the pandemic, and your employer has denied the request, contact our office for a consultation. We’ll hold your employer accountable for denying your request for an accommodation.


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