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How Do You Ask for a Reasonable Accommodation?

You can ask for a reasonable accommodation in a sit-down meeting with your boss or HR. You can also send a written notification by e-mail or even text.  Some companies have policies or forms on how to make a request for a reasonable accommodation. You can also ask for an accommodation even if you didn’t ask for one when applying for a job or after getting a job offer. As a disabled worker, you should ask for an accommodation when you know there’s a workplace barrier that is stopping you from performing a job, competing for a job, or receiving equal access to a job benefit such as an employee lunchroom or employee parking. Reasonable accommodations are available to qualified job applicants and employees who have disabilities. They should be provided whether they work part time or full time or are considered probationary.  But you’ll need to let your employer know an accommodation is needed if you need one and the employer is not aware of your disability. If you are concerned about requesting a reasonable accommodation, you should call the experienced New York City disability discrimination lawyers of Phillips & Associates.

Asking for Accommodations

You can ask for an accommodation at any point during a job application process or while you have a job. You can ask for an accommodation even if you didn’t ask for one when applying for a job or after getting a job offer. As a disabled worker, you should ask for an accommodation when you know there’s a workplace barrier that is stopping you from:

  • Competing for a job
  • Performing your job
  • Receiving equal access to job benefits like an employee’s lunchroom or employee parking.

It is wise to ask for an accommodation before your job performance suffers or you start have issues regarding work performance. Your employer doesn’t need to take back any discipline that happened before it knew you were disabled or needed an accommodation.

In most cases, you need to let your employer know you need an accommodation. You don’t need to use any particular words to make your request. You don’t even need to mention the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or specifically use the term reasonable accommodation. You should mention though that you feel you may need an accommodation. This notice instigates your employer’s obligation to start the interactive process.

Reasonable Accommodations You Can Ask for

Reasonable accommodations could include: (1) changes to a job application process that allow a qualified job applicant with a disability to be considered for the position the applicant wants, (2) changes to the work environment, or to the way under which a job is customarily performed that allow a qualified person with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position, or (3) changes that allow a disabled employee to allow equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated disabled employees.

When you ask for a reasonable accommodation, you should be aware that your employer cannot retaliate against you. In other words, it cannot take negative actions against you for exercising your rights. If it does, you can sue for damages. However, you may not be able get the specific reasonable accommodation you request. Rather, your employer may ask you some questions to figure out the scope of your restrictions and offer a suitable accommodation it finds feasible. The nature of this interactive process can vary depending on the law that applies. The good faith interactive process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for example, is different than the cooperative dialogue required under the New York City Human Rights Law.

Under the New York City Human Rights Law, a cooperative dialogue is the process by which a covered entity and someone entitled to an accommodation (or who could be entitled to an accommodation) get involved in good faith written or spoken dialogue concerning your accommodation needs, possible accommodations, any alternatives, and the challenges presented to the employer in providing an accommodation.

In New York City, once you’ve asked for an accommodation, and your employer has commenced the interactive process required to determine whether it is feasible to provide the one you requested or an alternative, your employer must give you a final written determination specifying what accommodation was granted or denied once you’ve asked for one and it.  

Situations in Which Your Employer Should Start the Interactive Process

There are situations in which your employer should start a dialogue with you without getting an express request for accommodation from you. Under the ADA, your employer should start this process without your request if it:

  • Knows you have a disability
  • Knows or has reason to know you’re experiencing workplace difficulties due to the disability.
  • Knows or has reason to know your disability stops you from asking for a reasonable accommodation.

Your employer needs to recognize there’s a need for accommodation even without your request.

Consult a Seasoned Disability Discrimination Lawyers

Asking for a reasonable accommodation for a disability can be intimidating. You may be fearful that your employer will see you differently or turn against you or even terminate you because you asked for an accommodation, particularly if you have an invisible disability that is not already apparent. However, you have the right to ask for a reasonable accommodation if you have a disability that meets the definition under the applicable law. You have the right to have a conversation about what accommodations would allow you to work as a qualified worker. In most cases, state and city law provide substantial protections to those who suffer from disabling conditions and they cover small workplaces. If you’re wondering when a reasonable accommodation can be denied in New York City workplaces, you should call our seasoned disability discrimination attorneys. Phillips & Associates is a plaintiff’s firm that fights for disabled workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County or Suffolk County. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form for a free consultation.

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