Accommodating disabled employees
Reasonable accommodation is available to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations must be provided to qualified employees regardless of whether they work part- time or full-time, or are considered "probationary." Generally, the individual with a disability must inform the employer that an accommodation is needed. For a further discussion of this issue, see Question 31, infra. "[W]ith or without reasonable accommodation" includes, if necessary, reassignment to a vacant position. These barriers may be physical obstacles (such as inaccessible facilities or equipment), or they may be procedures or rules (such as rules concerning when work is performed, when breaks are taken, or how essential or marginal functions are performed). Reasonable accommodation removes workplace barriers for individuals with disabilities. This is because a person with a disability who is unable to perform the essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodation, -- that are applied uniformly to employees with and without disabilities. However, an employer may have to provide reasonable accommodation to enable an employee with a disability to meet the production standard. Similarly, a reasonable accommodation enables an applicant with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and to be considered for a job. Barnett, the Supreme Court held that it was unreasonable, absent "special circumstances," for an employer to provide a reassignment that conflicts with the terms of a seniority system.
A cashier easily becomes fatigued because of lupus and, as a result, has difficulty making it through her shift. There are a number of possible reasonable accommodations that an employer may have to provide in connection with modifications to the work environment or adjustments in how and when a job is performed. Thus, if an employee is no longer qualified because of a disability to continue in his/her present position, an employer must reassign him/her as a reasonable accommodation. These include: In the context of job performance, this means that a reasonable accommodation enables the individual to perform the essential functions of the position. This Guidance sets forth an employer's legal obligations regarding reasonable accommodation; however, employers may provide more than the law requires. This Guidance examines what "reasonable accommodation" means and who is entitled to receive it.
The final section of this Guidance discusses undue hardship, including when requests for schedule modifications and leave may be denied.