Reasonable Accommodation vs. Undue Hardship — What Employers Need to Know About Disabilities 


When it comes to fair work adjustments, the term “undue hardship” is crucial. It acts as an exemption to the need for employers to make reasonable accommodations for eligible persons with disabilities. Unfortunately, the term is quite unclear. How can you determine whether your reasonable accommodation causes an undue burden for your employer? Let us look at its definition and ramifications.

Reasonable accommodations are often described as being extremely fact-specific. That means you must get legal guidance that is specific to your case. You can learn more by speaking to an attorney today. 

What is a reasonable accommodation in the workplace?

A reasonable accommodation is a change or adjustment to the hiring process or employment (including the physical work environment and workplace regulations or procedures) that ensures people with disabilities are treated equally.

A reasonable accommodation is effectively a “productivity enhancer” that enables a person with a handicap who is otherwise competent to execute essential work activities to the same extent as those without disabilities.

The ADA governs reasonable accommodations. To provide the same consideration, Title I of the ADA explicitly demands reasonable accommodations in three areas:

  • The application procedure
  • Performance of important job functions
  • Employees with disabilities can get equal employment benefits.

What is an undue hardship, and what makes the federal government unique? 

Undue hardship is a term used in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the foundational statute of reasonable accommodation. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which implements the ADA, covers government personnel.

The word “undue hardship” refers to a substantial difficulty or expense associated with providing workplace accommodations. Simply put, an accommodation that is too difficult or costly for an employer to adopt, considering their resources and circumstances, may be regarded as an excessive burden.

Most Americans are unaware of undue hardship under the ADA. However, grasping this notion is critical for determining the likely outcome of your reasonable accommodation request.

This is because your employer might decline your request for reasonable accommodation if they can demonstrate that your chosen accommodation will create undue hardship. Without such a demonstration, your employer is typically required to grant the accommodation you have asked for. 

Factors considered in assessing Undue Hardship 

Several variables are examined when deciding whether a reasonable accommodation causes undue hardship. 

The first consideration is the nature and net cost of your lodging. The higher the expense of your accommodations, the more probable it may cause undue hardship for your company. 

Furthermore, consider the total financial resources of the facility or facilities involved in providing the housing, the number of people employed at the institution, and the impact on costs and resources. If your organization has a higher budget, it will be more difficult for them to claim undue burden. 

You can learn more about your specific case by speaking to a skilled attorney, so schedule a consultation today! 

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