What is a Reasonable Accommodation, and Why Do I Have to Write a Letter to Get One?
A Reasonable Accommodation is a request based on your needs resulting from your disability. According to the Job Accommodation Network, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and 2010 (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees and applicants with disabilities, unless such accommodations would pose an undue hardship (i.e: too costly, too extensive, too substantial, too disruptive).
An applicant, or employee, with a disability is responsible for telling the employer that an accommodation is needed so they can participate in the application process, perform essential job functions, or receive equal benefits and privileges of employment. Employers are not required to provide accommodations if they are not aware of the need!
Job Accommodation Network also says that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing the ADA, an accommodation request does not have to be in writing. However, the EEOC suggests that persons with disabilities might find it best to document all accommodation requests in the event there is a dispute about whether, or when they requested accommodation. One way to document an accommodation request is to make a written request using email, or a letter.
Job Accommodation Network states that the ADA does not include any specific guidelines or forms for requesting reasonable accommodation. Some employers may have in-house forms. If so, employees should use the employer's forms for requesting accommodation. Otherwise, individuals with disabilities can use any method they choose as the ADA does not require specific language or format.
Please understand that this information is meant to be used only as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal advice, please contact a lawyer.
Please understand that an employer can ask very invasive and personal questions about your disability and the accommodations you are requesting. The reason for this is that the employer has to determine whether or not they can logistically and financially provide the accommodations you request. They can also request certain medical records from your treating physicians regarding your disability. An employer can agree to all of your accommodations as you request. They also can agree with some of the accommodations you request, or they can negotiate with you changes to the request for accommodations that you submit.
If you do not agree with your employer, you do have a right to file a complaint with the EEOC in your state, or to the EEOC at the federal level directly.