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What are reasonable accommodations for a disability?

If you are looking for work in Oregon, you do not have to disclose your disability during the hiring process, and you may prefer to keep it to yourself if you are able. After all, you have likely had experiences where people make unfair judgements or discriminate against you when they learn of your medical issue. On the other hand, your disability may be obvious, for example, if you use a wheelchair or have a visual impairment.

Even if you are well qualified for a position you are seeking, you may worry that your future employer will be unwilling to make the accommodations you require to do the job successfully. It is important to understand your rights and protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Finding a workable solution

If you are able to perform the essential tasks of your job without accommodations, you do not need to disclose your disability if you do not want to. However, if you fail to request accommodations you need to complete those tasks, the law does not obligate your employer to offer or provide adjustments. Additionally, even if you do request accommodations at work, the terms of those accommodations under the ADA are not always clear.

Your employer must provide any reasonable adjustments that you request to allow you to complete the tasks or perform other work-related activities. What is reasonable may vary for each employer based on the size and influence of the company. Some reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Arranging the work area to allow you to move about in a wheelchair
  • Providing a desk that is the proper height
  • Providing audio or visual aids
  • Allowing you to take more frequent breaks or have a more flexible schedule
  • Establishing alternative methods for you to complete the same tasks
  • Reassigning non-essential tasks to other employees

One of the important aspects of a reasonable accommodation is that it should not cause undue hardship for your employer or your co-workers. This may include a request that is cost-prohibitive, such as installing an elevator, or accommodations that transfer the bulk of your work to other employees.

Your request for accommodations from your employer may be more successful if you see it as a dialogue. If you are willing to negotiate in good faith, you may be surprised at how flexible your employer is willing to be to reach a solution that will benefit everyone involved.

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