Disability and Reasonable Accommodations in Washington

A disability shouldn’t prevent an otherwise capable and qualified individual from pursuing meaningful employment. Most positions can be performed with minimal alterations to the workspace or schedule to allow a disabled employee to perform his or her required job tasks. These alterations are known as “reasonable accommodations,” and they are required under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990.This Act is supported by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and in Washington by the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD).

The keyword in “reasonable accommodation” is “reasonable.” Obviously, people with certain disabilities or conditions cannot perform specific physically stressful jobs without becoming a danger to themselves, their colleagues, or the public. When providing reasonable accommodations is determined to be too cost prohibitive, too dangerous, or beyond the resources that a company has to provide to its employees, it is known as an undue hardship. If a company can prove that providing certain accommodations to employees is an undue hardship, it may be excused from the requirements listed in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Otherwise, an employer must provide reasonable accommodations. If it does not, it risks becoming involved with a discrimination claim or a lawsuit from employees who feel they have not been treated fairly.

What is Reasonable Accommodation?

Reasonable accommodations are any alterations or modifications to the job application process, interview process, or job itself for a qualified candidate or employee with a disability. Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Modifying company facilities to allow for a physically disabled individual to use them, such as the addition of wheelchair ramps or an elevator;
  • Modifying job-related equipment in a similar manner, such as through lower desks or a headset for an employee’s telephone;
  • Creating a job schedule around the employee’s disability or condition, such as allowing an insulin-dependent diabetic employee to have more frequent breaks than otherwise required; or
  • Providing readers or Braille material to blind employees or sign language interpreters to deaf employees.

Employees who need reasonable accommodations in the workplace must inform their employers or prospective employers of their needs through an interactive process. It is both the employer and the employee’s responsibilities to work to create an environment and work schedule that allows the employee to perform his or her job duties.

For an employee to be given reasonable accommodations, he or she must be able to prove that his or her disability is substantially limiting, which means that it prevents him or her from doing certain tasks that most of the population can do or that he or she must perform these tasks differently and may take a longer amount of time to perform them than the average, non-disabled person.

Reasonable Accommodation Attorneys Can Help

If you’ve been denied any type of reasonable accommodation for your disability by an employer, you may be entitled to damages. Call HKM Employment Attorneys LLP at 206-838-2504 to discuss your case. Our knowledgeable attorneys have extensive experience working in employment law in Washington state and will guide you toward the best solution for your case. Don’t miss out on career opportunities because of your disability – you have the right to earn a living without having to endanger yourself. Call today to learn more about how HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you.