Undue hardship as an employer defense against an ADA violation

On Behalf of Dunlap Fiore, LLC |

Employers in Louisiana understand that they have the legal duty to meet the needs of employees and provide a safe work environment. When an employee believes that he or she is not being properly accommodated for a disability they suffer, the Americans with Disability Act or ADA provides them the opportunity to file a claim against their employer. However, when employment litigation is based on an ADA violation by an employer, there are employer defenses available for these actions.

If an employee is claiming that he or she has not been provided reasonable accommodations for their disability, this could be considered an ADA violation. This occurs when an employee with a disability needs reasonable accommodations such as equipment modification, job restructuring, modified work schedules, providing readers or interpreters, adjusting training material or making the workplace readily accessible.

Reasonable accommodations allow applicants to participate in the hiring process and allow employees to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of other employees. When an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with known disabilities, this is considered a violation of the ADA.

However, if an employer was not aware of the disability or if making reasonable accommodations would cause undue hardship to the employer, this could be a defense against the claim. Undue hardship occurs when it would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial, disruptive or would fundamentally alter the nature or the operation of the business to make such accommodations.

If there are no alternatives or funding available to make reasonable accommodations in the workplace, an employer could use undue hardship as a defense against such a claim. An employer must also allow the applicant or employee with the disability the opportunity to pay for the accommodation that constitutes the employer an undue hardship, however, if they decide to fund the accommodations, he or she can not use that to assert an ADA violation if it was already determined to be an undue hardship.

The above information is only meant to be informative and should not be taken as legal advice. Therefore, employers accused of an ADA violation or are dealing with other employment litigation issues should seek guidance about his or her situation. This could help them better understand their options, helping them make a timely and informed decision.

Source: Eeoc.gov, “The ADA: Your Responsibilities as an Employer,” accessed Nov. 30, 2015