What are employer protections against undue hardship with ADA?

On Behalf of Dunlap Fiore, LLC |

All Louisiana businesses are interested in adhering to the law and offering employment to anyone who is qualified to do the job. In general, following the Americans with Disabilities Act is not something that people must be compelled to do by threat of legal filing. But, there are times when the cost of the changes that must be made to accommodate a person who is disabled in any way can prove too costly to be viable. While there might be disagreement on this point by the employee or prospective employee, businesses also have protections under the ADA to shield them from undue hardship.

If the reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship, the employer is not legally obligated to provide it. The case will be assessed individually based on the circumstances. Numerous factors are considered. They include: what the accommodations are and how much they cost; what the facility’s financial resources are; how many people work there; what the changes will do to the expenses and resources of the facility; the location and its size; the type of operation; and how the changes will impact the facility.

The net cost to the employer will be paramount in determining if there is undue hardship to comply with ADA. If there are outside funds available, tax credits, deductions and other benefits to making the changes, then the case might not be considered one of undue hardship. With alternatives to provide accommodations to a disabled person, one that will be effective and does not lead to undue hardship will be required.

If there are concerns that there are fears or prejudices on the part of customers because of the employee’s disability, that cannot be construed as undue hardship. Morale of other employees cannot be considered, either. If there is a disruption to the work done by other employees and it negatively affects the business, then this can be considered undue hardship.

It is easy to portray an employer as the enemy when there is a dispute over whether changes to the workplace to comply with ADA is undue hardship or not. However, employers are protected just as much as employees. If there is an issue with undue hardship to comply with ADA, having legal assistance from an attorney who is experienced in employment law and knows how to view a case from the perspective of the employer is crucial to protect from lawsuits.

Source: eeoc.gov, “Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act — Undue Hardship Issues,” accessed on Aug. 8, 2017