What is Reasonable Accommodation and How Does it Work in Iowa?

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Posted by Tom Foley

If you have a disability or limitation, you may feel nervous about asking for accommodations so you can continue working. However, Iowa law says that employers must take reasonable steps to accommodate workers with disabilities.

Reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or a workspace that will allow an employee with limitations to still participate in work activities.

“Reasonable” steps to accommodation can vary in a variety of ways. It really only limited by the imagination of the employee and what your disability may require.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations in Iowa

Here are a few examples of things that might be considered a reasonable accommodation: 

  • Special equipment – this could include a stand-up desk, a headset for your phone, or installing a ramp where there were stairs.
  • Providing reduced hours, different start and stop times or additional breaks.
  • Sign language interpreters for Deaf people, or readers for blind people.
  • Excused work leave to treat your disability or limitation, including FMLA leave if it is available.
  • Communication adjustments – if you learn better by hearing instructions versus reading them, you can ask to be only taught through listening.
  • Ongoing training or coaching.

Asking for Accommodations at Work in Iowa

In order to receive an accommodation, you will need to ask for one. Don’t assume that your employer knows you need accommodations to perform your job. You can tell them in person or put it in writing, and you should inform your supervisor or your company’s human resources department.

While you may be nervous about asking for an accommodation, it’s important to keep in mind that it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because of this. If you find they do treat you differently after you ask for an accommodation, speak with a skilled Iowa disability discrimination attorney about your rights.

Once your employer is aware of your disability, your employer should work closely with you to identify which accommodations would be most helpful in your situation.

What “Reasonable” Means for Disability Accommodations at Work in Iowa

Keep in mind that while Iowa employers are required to accommodate disabled employees, the term “reasonable” is important. Employers are not required to make an accommodation if it presents an “undue hardship” to their business.

“Undue hardship” can mean:

  • If the cost of the accommodations is prohibitive (for example, if purchasing special furniture to accommodate you is too expensive for the business)
  • Whether it will affect other employees’ jobs or the business as a whole
  • Lowering quality or quantity standards to accommodate your limitations.

Your employer is generally not required to alter the core parts of your job – you must still be able to meet the basic requirements of skill, education, and experience.

They are also not required to transfer you to a different position if you can’t do the job. If there is a vacant position available, then they may be able to accommodate you – but are not required to do so.

If you feel your employer is discriminating against you because of your disability, or because you have asked for an accommodation, you should speak with an experienced Iowa employment law attorney. Under the ADA and the Iowa Civil Rights Act, you have rights as a disabled worker.

RSH Legal offers a free, no-obligation case evaluation for Iowans who are discriminated against at work due to their disability. To schedule yours, call 1-800-433-0283.

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