3 Tips for Talking to Your Employer About Making Accommodations for You at Work

3 Tips For Talking To Your Employer About Making Accommodations For You At Work

If you have a physical or mental disability and are determined to work in an office setting, be it in technology or another sector, certain reasonable accommodations can greatly boost your productivity and success at in the workplace. Legally, your employer is required to help you find accommodations that will help you perform the essential functions of your job. The key is being aware of your rights and making your employer aware of your needs.

It’s understandable that many people find having these conversations to be challenging or uncomfortable. If you’re feeling reluctant to broach the subject with your boss, here are three tips for talking to your employer about making reasonable accommodations for you at work. 

Who is Entitled to Accommodations in the Workplace?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to give reasonable accommodations to job applicants and employees with disabilities, provided that the accommodation required by the employee does not impose an undue hardship on the employer. An undue hardship is an adjustment that poses significant difficulty or expense in proportion to the resources, nature, size, or structure of the employer’s business.

Examples of reasonable accommodations in the workplace include modifications to the physical workplace, adjustments to work schedules, and the provision of assistive technology.

The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It covers labor organizations, employment agencies, and state and local governments. Note that accommodations must be made on a case-by-case basis and that not all individuals with disabilities will require or request accommodations. The individual with the disability must request the accommodation, and the employer and the individual must engage in an interactive process to determine the appropriate accommodation.

Identify What Reasonable Accommodations You Need

Before you sit down with your employer to talk about what accommodations you’ll require to do your job effectively, you should first know exactly what you want to say and what you plan to request. Coming to your employer with a problem without a proposed solution will usually not be as productive. To help the process go as smoothly as possible, think beforehand about what you need in order to perform your job tasks.

Your needs might include more space to maneuver around, breaks at certain times of the day, or physical aids to help you perform your essential job functions. All of these accommodations are reasonable and should be granted if you can effectively express what it is you need

Talk with HR and Your Supervisor

If you work for a company that has an HR department in addition to the person that works as your direct supervisor, it’s wise to meet with both of these people as you seek to get the accommodations that you need.

“Employers have a legal obligation to make sure that their workplace is inclusive and accessible to all employees, regardless of their disabilities,” says Los Angeles employment lawyer Eric A. Panitz. “The failure to provide reasonable accommodations can result in employees feeling forced to resign, which is illegal discrimination.”

Especially if your supervisor hasn’t worked with anyone who’s needed an accommodation in the past, working with HR will help both you and your supervisor know that’s possible for you, and what your company is capable of doing in order to make the necessary modifications. 

Get Your Conversation on the Record

In an ideal world, any time you spend seeking an accommodation for yourself at work would be easy and straightforward. Because we live in the real world, it’s important to stand up for your rights when it comes to getting the accommodations you need.

Whenever you communicate with HR or your boss about accommodations at work, make sure you get things in writing and keep a paper trail of what was said. Make sure this record exists on your personal phone, email account, or computer, so that you can always have access. By doing so, if you ever need to hire an employment attorney to ensure you’re treated fairly, you’ll have evidence on your side to help support your claims. “If your employer denies your request for reasonable accommodations, you have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” says Panitz.

If you need to speak with your employer about making accommodations for your medical condition or disability, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you through this process.

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