When can your employer deny a medical accommodation request?

Maybe you got hurt at work. You might have fallen off of a ladder or suffered an electrical shock from a piece of equipment that left you with nerve damage. Maybe your medical issue is from outside of work. You might have neuropathy that affects your manual dexterity because of cancer treatment or a spinal cord injury because of a car crash. 

Regardless of how your injury occurred, you generally have a right to expect your employer to support you at work. Asking for reasonable accommodations can help a worker with a disabling medical condition continue their job without performance or safety issues. Unfortunately, some employers will try to deny even the smallest accommodation requests. 

What is the line between reasonable and inappropriate when it comes to employer accommodations?

The impact on the employer is a primary consideration

The Americans with Disabilities Act Ada (ADA) requires that employers support workers with disabling medical conditions. Companies can do this by offering reasonable accommodations when a worker makes a request based on their medical needs. 

Different medical conditions necessitate different accommodations, so the law does not explicitly list the type of accommodations an employer needs to offer. Instead, it imposes a rule for businesses to interpret. As long as the request is reasonable, the business should accommodate it. Any request that does not impose an undue hardship on the business is likely a reasonable request. 

An undue hardship would mean severe financial impact or operational consequences. Most businesses, for example, could absorb the expense of installing a ramp or providing assistive technology. Remote work, when possible, is another example of a reasonable accommodation that will often have minimal impact on an employer.

Realizing that an outright refusal to accommodate you is a form of disability discrimination could help you get the support you need from your employer.