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Chapter III: The Reasonable Accommodation Obligation

3.1 Overview of Legal Obligations

An employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless it can show that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the business.

Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job, an employment practice, or the work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity.

The obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation applies to all aspects of employment. This duty is ongoing and may arise any time that a person's disability or job changes.

An employer cannot deny an employment opportunity to a qualified applicant or employee because of the need to provide reasonable accommodation, unless it would cause an undue hardship.

An employer does not have to make an accommodation for an individual who is not otherwise qualified for a position.

Generally, it is the obligation of an individual with a disability to request a reasonable accommodation.

A qualified individual with a disability has the right to refuse an accommodation. However, if the individual cannot perform the essential functions of the job without the accommodation, s/he may not be qualified for the job.

If the cost of an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer, the individual with a disability should be given the option of providing the accommodation or paying that portion of the cost which would constitute an undue hardship.