Can an Employer Withdraw a Reasonable Accommodation?

Employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who have disabilities. However, what happens when an employer decides to withdraw a reasonable accommodation? How does this impact the employee? What are the rights of the employee? In this article, we will explore the legal implications of an employer withdrawing a reasonable accommodation and what employees can do in such situations.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a workplace that enables a person with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job. Reasonable accommodations may include changes to work schedules, modifications to the work environment, or equipment that will enable an employee to perform their job duties.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

  • Providing a sign language interpreter or captioning services for employees who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Allocating reserved parking spaces for employees with mobility issues
  • Providing accessible workstations and adjustable chairs for employees with back pain or other musculoskeletal conditions
  • Modifying work schedules to allow employees to attend medical appointments or to take prescribed medication

The Law on Reasonable Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities. Under the ADA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as working or walking. Employers are required to engage in an interactive process with employees to determine what reasonable accommodations are necessary to enable them to perform their job duties.

What is the Interactive Process?

The interactive process is a dialogue between employers and employees to determine what reasonable accommodations are necessary. The interactive process requires both parties to engage in good faith communication, identify the employee’s limitations, and explore possible accommodations. The employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would result in undue hardship.

Can an Employer Withdraw a Reasonable Accommodation?

In general, employers are not allowed to withdraw a reasonable accommodation that has been granted to an employee. Doing so would be a violation of the ADA. Once an employee has been granted a reasonable accommodation, the employer is obligated to continue to provide it as long as the employee needs it.

When Can an Employer Withdraw a Reasonable Accommodation?

There are limited circumstances when an employer may withdraw a reasonable accommodation. These circumstances include:

  • The employee no longer requires the accommodation to perform their job duties
  • The accommodation creates an undue hardship on the employer
  • The accommodation was granted on a temporary basis and has reached its expiration date
  • The accommodation was based on a mistaken belief that the employee had a disability

How to Deal with an Employer who Withdraws a Reasonable Accommodation?

Employees who have had their reasonable accommodation withdrawn have the right to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing the ADA and investigating complaints of discrimination related to disability. Employees should file a complaint as soon as possible, providing detailed information about the withdrawal of the accommodation and any other relevant details.

What Happens After an Employee Files a Complaint?

After an employee files a complaint with the EEOC, the agency will investigate the complaint and determine whether there is a violation of the ADA. If the EEOC determines that there is a violation, they may attempt to resolve the issue through mediation or file a lawsuit against the employer. If the EEOC decides not to pursue the case, the employee may still file a lawsuit against their employer in state or federal court.

Conclusion

Reasonable accommodations are an essential component of workplace accessibility for people with disabilities. Employers have a legal obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities. They cannot withdraw a reasonable accommodation once it has been granted, except in limited circumstances. Employees who have experienced the withdrawal of a reasonable accommodation have the right to file a complaint with the EEOC and explore legal options.

Common Questions and Answers

  • Can an employer refuse to provide a reasonable accommodation?
  • No, under the ADA, employers are required to engage in an interactive process with employees to determine what reasonable accommodations are necessary to enable them to perform their job duties.

  • Can an employer withdraw a reasonable accommodation?
  • Employers generally cannot withdraw a reasonable accommodation once it has been granted, except in limited circumstances. Employers can only withdraw a reasonable accommodation if the employee no longer requires the accommodation to perform their job duties, the accommodation creates an undue hardship on the employer, or the accommodation was granted on a temporary basis and has reached its expiration date.

  • What should an employee do if their reasonable accommodation is withdrawn?
  • Employees who have had their reasonable accommodation withdrawn have the right to file a complaint with the EEOC. The agency will investigate the complaint and determine whether there is a violation of the ADA. If the EEOC determines that there is a violation, they may attempt to resolve the issue through mediation or file a lawsuit against the employer.

  • What happens if the EEOC decides not to pursue the case?
  • If the EEOC decides not to pursue the case, the employee may still file a lawsuit against their employer in state or federal court.

References:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). (2021). Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/americans-disabilities-act
  • Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace. (n.d.). Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://www.aclu.org/other/reasonable-accommodations-workplace
  • Reasonable Accommodations. (n.d.). Retrieved June 17, 2021, from https://www.ada.gov/accommodations.htm

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