Many qualified employees have certain accommodations to assist them at work. It is the employer’s responsibility to listen to their employees and consider the specific needs, and it is the employer’s duty to provide an accommodation when it is reasonable and the employee needs it, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. By failing in this duty, an employee can be held liable for serious civil damages and state or federal fines.
These legal troubles can be entirely avoided by enlisting the help of an attorney when such a case comes up, or by working with a lawyer to create a bulletproof employee handbook for employees and managers so that the correct action is always taken in these scenarios.
Who Can Make a Reasonable Accommodation, and for What Reason?
There are several reasons why an employee might need an accommodation to be made for their work schedule, office furniture, or job duties. These include the employee’s:
- Pregnancy status;
- Disability; or
- Medical condition.
A reasonable accommodation for a pregnant woman may simply be to provide more frequent bathroom breaks and to allow the employee a chair when she would otherwise stand.
An ethnic or religious accommodation might be to allow a Muslim woman to wear a hijab, or for a Jewish man to wear a yarmulke. Changing the employee’s work schedule to allow for religious celebrations may also fall under the category of making a reasonable accommodation.
Other accommodations may include moving office furniture or desks to allow an employee who is currently on crutches easier access through the office space, or to put in a wheelchair ramp for a permanently disabled employee.
Some reasonable accommodations cost the employer nothing, while other accommodations may be quite expensive. One accommodation may be reasonable for a large employer, while financial constraints may be an issue for a smaller employer.
Steps to Take to Avoid an EEOC Lawsuit for Failing to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suggests a variety of tips for avoiding an employment lawsuit or fine when it comes to reasonable accommodations, such as the following:
- Ensure that managers respond quickly to reasonable accommodation requests;
- Make sure applicants understand that your company will provide reasonable accommodations required by the law during the hiring process;
- Require managers to keep medical records for accommodation requests confidential; and
- Inform employees how they can report discrimination due to reasonable accommodations requests.
An Attorney Can Help Today
When determining whether or not an employee’s reasonable accommodation request should be fulfilled, it can be difficult to decide what is and what is not within the scope of the law. Therefore, working with an attorney is essential. Contact our talented DuPage County employment law attorneys at Momkus McCluskey Roberts LLC today for assistance.