ADA’s New Focus: Reasonable Accommodations

Posted on behalf of Rizk Law on Dec 12, 2013 in Consumer Alerts

The Amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while broadening the scope of physical or mental impairments which would be considered to be disabilities under the ADA, is focused less on whether a condition is a disability and more on determining reasonable accommodations.

Suggested Employer Accommodations for Workers with Cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy and Intellectual Disability

There are nearly 34 million Americans who have been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes or epilepsy, and more than two million individuals with an intellectual disability.

On May 15, 2013 the EEOC issued the following four separate “informal” guidance documents relating to cancer, epilepsy, diabetes and intellectual disabilities:

Cancer: Employers can make reasonable accommodations for individuals with cancer by doing the following:

  • Allowing leave for doctor’s appointments and/or to seek or recuperate from treatment
  • Periodic breaks or a private area to rest or take medication
  • Modified work schedules, permission to work from home
  • Modification of office temperatures
  • Permission to use work telephone to call doctors if the employer’s regular practice is to prohibit personal phone calls
  • Reallocation or re-distribution of marginal tasks to another employee
  • Reassignment to a vacant position if the employee can no longer perform his or her regular job

Epilepsy: Reasonable accommodations for individuals with epilepsy could include the following:

  • A private area to rest after a seizure
  • A rubber mat or carpet to cushion a fall from a seizure
  • Breaks to take medication
  • Adjustments to the work schedule

Diabetes: Reasonable accommodations include:

  • Breaks to eat, drink or test blood sugar levels
  • A private area to test blood-sugar levels
  • A place to rest until blood sugar levels become normal
  • Leave for treatment, recuperation or training on managing their diabetes

Intellectual Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations include:

  • Enhanced training on how to do the job by allowing additional training time and the use of visual aids
  • A tape recorder to record directions
  • A job coach
  • Help in understanding evaluations and discipline

While far from being a mandate, the guidance documents make it easier to conclude that individuals with a wide range of impairments, including cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and intellectual disabilities are protected by the ADA.