ADA Blog


ADA Blog 152: Is it reasonable?

Is it reasonable? This is the most frequent question I’m asked by employers and employees alike.

The duty to provide #reasonableaccommodation is a fundamental statutory requirement of the ADA because of the nature of discrimination faced by individuals with disabilities who want to find a job, want to keep their current job or are seeking a promotion within the company to do a job they are qualified to do. Although many individuals with disabilities can apply for and perform jobs without any reasonable accommodations, there are workplace barriers that keep others from performing jobs which they could do with some form of accommodation. These barriers may be:

a) physical obstacles (such as inaccessible facilities or equipment),


b) procedures or rules (such as rules concerning when work is performed, when breaks are taken, or how essential or marginal functions are performed).

Reasonable accommodation removes workplace barriers for individuals with disabilities. Another term for reasonable accommodation is “workplace supports.” These supports allow an applicant with disabilities to apply for a job without bias. They also allow an employee with a disability an equal opportunity to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment that employees without disabilities enjoy.

But, not all requests are reasonable. Just because an applicant or employee with a disability asks for an accommodation doesn’t mean that you have to grant the request.

The term “reasonable” is subjective. This means that its definition must be determined on a case-by-case-basis given the company’s size, available resources, and the specific needs of the individual. When viewed in this context, determining what’s “reasonable” for a particular company begins to make sense.

Here are some general guidelines to answer the question, “is it a reasonable request?”

a) A modification or adjustment is "reasonable" if it "seems reasonable on its face, i.e., ordinarily or in the run of cases...this means it is "reasonable" if it appears to be "feasible" or "plausible."

b) An accommodation also must be effective in meeting the needs of the individual.

c) In the context of job performance, this means that a reasonable accommodation enables the individual to perform the essential functions of the position.

d) Similarly, a reasonable accommodation enables an applicant with a disability to have an equal opportunity to participate in the application process and to be considered for a job.

It is not reasonable if the request is to accommodate involves:

a) shifting an essential job function onto others
b) converting either rotating or temporary positions into permanent positions

The way to effectively determine if a request is reasonable for your company, is to engage in the #interactiveprocess. This allows the employer and employee together, to make a reasoned decision that the accommodation will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job while protecting your business from undue hardship.

If you have questions about how practical ways to develop and implement a reasonable accommodation policy and procedure for your company, contact Springboard for more information.


This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.