Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ADA Accommodations: Making the Workplace Work for You


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If you're struggling with migraine triggers or other migraine-related issues at work you might have the legal right to request that your employer make certain adjustments in consideration of your health needs.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to accommodate the needs of their employees (and applicants for employment) when doing so would not cause the employer an undue hardship. This means that if you are qualified for the job and it would not be too burdensome, your employer is required to work with you to make changes necessitated by your disability.

Fluorescent lighting,
a horrible migraine trigger for many people, is present in most offices and public spaces. Requesting an ADA accommodation for alternate lighting options is one way you can try to address this problem. An accommodation request could be used as a strategy for eliminating certain odors or other common triggers from your work space. Further, it could take the form of a request for a more flexible schedule, an exception to ordinary sick or personal leave policies or unpaid time off.

The Department of Labor's Job Accommodation Network provides publications that explain more about how to request an accommodation, a sample request letter and tips on how to approach your situation.

JAN: Practial Guide to Requesting & Negotiating Accommodation
JAN: Ideas for Writing an Accommodation Request Letter

This article, which you can download in PDF, is another good resource:

How to Seek Reasonable Accommodation for a Physical or Mental Disability

If you think you want to explore this option, here are a few tips:

1. Gather information.
Before you make your request, determine what responsibilities your employer has, what your job requirements are and whether you can reasonably meet them and what changes you need and whether they will still allow you to perform the essential functions of your job. Spend as much time as you can reading about accommodations and learning everything you can. (Good resources are linked above).

2. Put your request in writing.
You are not required to, but making a paper trail is always advisable.

3. Include a report from your doctor(s) with your request. This may not be required, but it is a good idea to put your best foot forward by having your doctor describe you condition and how it affects you.

4. Consider seeking professional advice. An attorney can help you decipher the complicated terms and standards involved in determining whether you are entitled to request or receive reasonable accommodations.

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