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How Do Reasonable Accommodations Work For FMLA and Employees With Disabilities?

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A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that allows a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodations can also include adjustments to allow qualified individuals with disabilities to have employment rights and privileges equal to those of employees without disabilities.

Common kinds of reasonable accommodations include physical changes to workspaces, noise reduction measures or quieter workspaces, or modifying work schedules. A reasonable accommodation could also include time away from work to treat a disability.

While reasonable accommodations are available, employees often get into trouble if they don’t know the information they must provide or the process of requesting a reasonable disability accommodation.

An employer will not simply grant an accommodation without asking any questions. For this reason, attorney Stuart Higgins remains ready to answer your questions and assist you with a reasonable accommodation request if necessary. Call us at (515) 619-9148 or reach out online to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can help you.

Requesting a Disability Accommodation

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that a person with a disability must have a record of substantial impairments and be qualified to perform the essential functions of a job with or without reasonable accommodation to be protected by the ADA. In other words, the applicant or employee must satisfy all job-related job requirements and be able to perform tasks essential to the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

The EEOC requires employers to engage in an interactive process with employees who have requested a disability accommodation. The interactive process allows an employer to determine whether:

  • An employee has a disability as defined in the ADA.
  • A requested accommodation is reasonably necessary to allow the employee to continue working notwithstanding the disability.
  • A requested accommodation will be an undue hardship for the employer.
  • There are alternative accommodations that could still help the employee but not place the same level of undue hardship on the employer.
  • The employee has the qualifications for and interest in a different position that may be a better accommodation for them.

Requesting FMLA Leave

The Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to take work-related leave for family or medical reasons. When a person takes FMLA leave, they are entitled to have their job protected during their absence and all benefits they receive from their employer must be continued.

A person is eligible for FMLA leave if they:

  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours for the 12 months prior to the leave, work in locations with at least 50 employees within 75 miles and have worked with the business for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutively).
  • Are pregnant, have just given birth or have adopted a child.
  • Have a serious medical condition lasting at least three days and requiring medical treatment or requiring a hospital stay of at least one night.
  • Have an incapacitating condition lasting at least three days and requiring medical treatment or a chronic condition requiring medical treatment.
  • Are caring for a family member who has an injury or illness sustained during military service.
  • Are caring for a family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition.
  • Are family members of deployed National Guard and Reserve Personnel.

FMLA allows a person to take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, the worker’s own serious health condition, the care of a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, or the military deployment of the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent. A person can also take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a service member with a serious service-connected injury or illness.

Leave can also be granted under the ADA as a form of reasonable accommodation. The amount of leave provided could depend on the employee’s disability and could be affected by undue hardship that leave creates for an employer.

A worker with a disability still needs to ask for a reasonable accommodation, and such a request should be in writing with reasonable accommodation being specifically mentioned. There are no specific forms required for a reasonable accommodation request, although you may want to check to see if your employer has a certain form of its own that they would prefer to be used.

A reasonable accommodation request could require you to supply medical documentation relating to your disability. In some cases, the employer may require you to undergo an independent medical examination performed by their selected physician.

Contact an Iowa Employment Lawyer

If you are a disabled employee in Iowa who is struggling to get your employer to provide a reasonable accommodation under the ADA or FMLA, you are going to want to make sure that you do not hesitate to seek legal representation for assistance with your case. You will want to be sure that you are quick to contact Higgins Law Firm, PLLC.

Our firm’s founder has been named one of the Top 40 Under 40 for Employment Law by the Association of American Trial Lawyers, one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in 2015 by the National Trial Lawyers, and one of the Premier 100 Trial Attorneys in 2015 by the American Academy of Trial Attorneys. You can have us discuss all of your rights as soon as you call (515) 619-9148 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.