When is an Employer required to provide a Reasonable Accommodation to disabled employees?

In the legal world, a Reasonable Accommodation is not a stay at a five star hotel or resort.  Instead these terms, refer to the balance that courts attempt to strike between a disabled employee’s rights and an employer’s duty to accommodate the employee. 

Typically, the employer or Company does not have to provide a Reasonable Accommodation under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA), unless the employee asks for the accommodation or the employer knows of the disability.  Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co. Inc., 47 F.3d 928, 934 (7th Cir. 1995).  

In order for the employer’s obligation to accommodate to be triggered, without the employee’s request, the symptoms of the disability must be obvious enough to reasonably infer that the employer actually knew about the disability.  Hedberg,  47 F.3d 928, 934 (7th Cir. 1995) and Jovanovic v. In-Sink-Erator Div. of Emerson Elec. Co., 201 F.3d 894, 899 (7th Cir. 2000). 

However, this inquiry is often very fact specific, and courts will make a case by case determination about whether or not the employer or Company, had a duty to provide a Reasonable Accommodation to its disabled employees.   

Hedberg  and Jovanovic

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