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Understanding reasonable accommodations as outlined by the ADA

Under the American with Disabilities Act, employers are required to make accommodations for disabled employees that are reasonable.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into action, states the U.S. Department of Justice. Due to this law, employers in Delaware are required to make certain adjustments for disabled employees so they are able to adequately perform the functions of their job.

"Reasonable accommodations" defined

The DOJ states that a "reasonable accommodation" is an adjustment made to the application process or the workplace that allows qualified employees to benefit from being employed, participating in searching for a new job and acceptably meeting the requirements for their position. Examples of a reasonable accommodation include the following:

  • Instead of providing verbal feedback, an employer writes it out so that his or her employee, who communicates more effectively through written materials, is able to benefit from it.
  • An employee with a cognitive disability is given a more consistent day-to-day schedule while still performing all the essential functions of his or her job.
  • Furniture in an office space is rearranged so that an employee who is blind is able to move around safely.
  • A repair person who uses a wheelchair services the accessible sites of a building while another repair person is assigned the areas that are not accessible by wheelchair.
  • An employee is reassigned to a new position because he or she can no longer adequately perform the functions of his or her prior job.
  • An employee who needs frequent kidney dialysis is given assignments that can be performed at home or on a part-time basis.

According to the Office of Disability Rights, reasonable accommodations can require no technology, simple technology or sophisticated technology. For example, a color-coded filing system is an accommodation that requires no technology while the use of screen reading software is an accommodation that requires sophisticated technology.

Employer requirements

Employers are required to make accommodations for their disabled employees once it is determined that the requested change is reasonable. However, if the proposed accommodation would inflict undue hardship on the way the business operates, employers do not have to follow through with implementing the accommodation. The resources available, nature of the operation and the size of the business should all be considered when determining whether the accommodation will cause the company undue hardship.

While employers are required under the ADA to make reasonable accommodations for their employees, some businesses in Delaware do not take this requirement seriously. Employees who struggle to perform the functions of their job because their employer fails to implement reasonable accommodations should seek the legal guidance of an attorney.

View Cases

  • Sheridan v. E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 100 F.3d 1061 (3rd Cir. 1996) (en banc) (Plaintiff's jury verdict and the "pretext only" paradigm for proof of intentional discrimination established).
  • Hawkins v. Division of State Police, et al., C.A. No. 99-297-SLR (Religious discrimination case which successfully obtained an offer of judgment and caused the State to stop using the MMPI-1.
  • Miller v. Daimler Chrysler Corp., C. A. No. 01-827-JJF (D.Del. 2003) (Race Discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Panaro v. J.C. Penny, Inc., C.A. 01C-02-010 JOH, 2002 WL 130692 (Del. Super. 2002)(In a personal injury case, admission into evidence of direct examination of deceased deponent/plaintiff does not.
  • Price, et al. v. L. Aaron Chaffinch, et al., C.A. No. 04-956-GMS, 2006 WL 1313178 (D.Del. 2006) (First Amendment Retaliation, Petitions Clause and Defamation Claims survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Reyes v. Freebery, 141 Fed. Appx. 49 (3d Cir. 2005) (per curiam) remanding to District Court to explain its restrictions on the public's right to access to judicial records and counsel's First Amendment.
  • Underwood v. Sear Roebuck and Co., 343 F.Supp.2d 259 (D.Del. 2004) (Gender discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Shotzberger v. State of Delaware Dept. Of Correction, 2004 WL 758354 (D.Del. Jan. 30, 2004) (Gender discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgement).
  • Stull v. Thomas S. Neuberger, P.A., 2003 WL 21481016 (Del. Super. Febr. 28, 2003) (Effect of Delaware accord and satisfaction law on a contract for legal services).
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