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Failure to Accommodate

What is a failure to accommodate?

The American with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Washington Law Against Discrimination ("WLAD") require an employer to make reasonable accommodations for an employee's disability. The ADA applies to all employers with 15 or more employees, and the WLAD applies to employers with 8 or more employees. A reasonable accommodation enables the worker to secure and retain their employment. If the employer does not provide a reasonable accommodation as required by federal or state law this is called a "failure to accommodate." 

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation requires an employer to accommodate an employee's disability (e.g., temporary or permanent disability, breastfeeding/pumping mother) unless it would be an "undue hardship." An undue hardship is when the requested accommodation would result in significant difficulty or expense to the employer in supplying the accommodation. This means that an employer's duty to accommodate is not endless and the request must be reasonable. Additionally, the employee must be able to fulfill their essential job functions with or without the accommodation. 

What is an essential job function?

An essential job function is a fundamental duty that is required of the employee to perform their job (e.g., a baggage handler for an airline is required to lift 25 pounds). If the employee cannot fulfill the essential job functions (e.g., lifting 25 pounds) the employee is not qualified for the job, and therefore the employer is not required to provide an accommodation. However, if lifting 25 pounds is not labeled an essential job function, and the employer does not accommodate an employee, the employer may be at risk for failure to accommodate. 

If you believe your employer has failed to accommodate your disability and would like to discuss your case further contact us.