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What Defines Reasonable Accommodation Under ADA?

What Defines Reasonable Accommodation Under ADAWhat Defines Reasonable Accommodation Under ADA?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations could include restructuring jobs, providing a reasonable amount of additional unpaid leave for medical treatment, providing temporary workplace specialists to assist in training, and more. What does this have to do with New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

As found in a 2010 federal court case, employers are not required to remove essential job functions as a reasonable accommodation for an employee who was injured on the job and cannot perform his or her job as they did before. The case that occurred, which involved plaintiff Joe Wilkerson who popped a ligament in his right hand and was placed on light duty, was an employee suing his company due to the claim that his supervisor was trying to make him do cleaning activities that were unsafe for him with one hand. Wilkerson claimed that his supervisor refused to allow him to work in the store room at a mill.

Wilkerson’s lawsuit alleged that Boomerang Tube, LLC, the company he was working for, discriminated against him do to a disability. He further stated that he could have performed his essential job functions with reasonable accommodations such as:

  • Receiving assistance from his supervisor
  • Being assigned a trainee
  • Job restructuring
  • Receiving a transfer to a vacant position in the storeroom; or
  • Being allowed a short leave of absence

The court found that is it unreasonable to require that an employer assign an existing employee to perform essential functions or the hire new employees for this purpose. The Court also found that none of the above accommodations would have been considered reasonable for Wilkerson to complete the essential duties of his job. The Court ended up dismissing the case.

While the right New Jersey Workers’ Compensation policy will protect your clients financially should they face this type of claim, it is important for employers to be aware of any and all laws pertaining to employees and how to handle employee injuries as well as disabilities.

At Associated Specialty Insurance Agency (ASIA) we understand the numerous Workers’ Compensation risks faced by your clients in various industries. For more information about our products and services, please contact us today at (866) 679-7457.

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