Employers can’t fail or refuse to make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of qualified employees or applicants with disabilities, unless employers can show that these accommodations would impose undue hardship on their business operations. Employers also can’t deny employment opportunities to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities based on the need to accommodate their physical or mental limitations, unless these accommodations would be unreasonable.
Reasonable accommodations can include:
- making workplace facilities readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities;
- providing or modifying equipment or devices;
- job restructuring;
- part-time or modified work schedules;
- reassigning or transferring employees to a vacant position, a light-duty job, another work location, or another alternative employment opportunity available under an existing policy or practice;
- telework arrangements where employees perform some or all of their job duties at their home or a designated location other than employers’ normal worksite;
- allowing employees to use paid or unpaid sick, disability, medical, or other leave that is available under an existing policy or practice;
- adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies;
- allowing employees to use a service animal;
- providing applicants with disabilities an opportunity to demonstrate their relevant knowledge, skills, or abilities through testing methods adapted to their special circumstances;
- making reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices so that employees with disabilities can perform their essential job functions; and
- reanalyzing job specifications, qualifications, or criteria to determine if they can be waived or modified.
Employers have the burden of proving their inability to make reasonable accommodations. Determining whether accommodations would impose undue hardship is based on the following factors:
- the nature and cost of the accommodations;
- the financial resources of employers and, if applicable, their parent corporation;
- the size of employers’ business in terms of the number and type of facilities;
- the type of employers’ business, including their workforce composition and structure;
- employers’ ability to conduct business with the accommodations;
- the accommodations’ impact on other employees’ performance; and
- legitimate safety concerns based on actual information or data instead of speculation, conjecture, stereotypes, or generalizations about people with disabilities.
Interns: Employers can’t fail or refuse to make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of qualified interns with disabilities, unless employers can show that these accommodations would impose undue hardship on their business operations.
Interns are people who perform work for employers for training purposes if:
- employers aren’t committed to hiring them at the end of their training period;
- they agree with employers that they aren’t entitled to wages for the work they perform;
- the work supplements their educational training and provides them with beneficial experience that might enhance their employability; and
- the work is closely supervised by existing staff and doesn’t displace regular employees.
Reference citations: Md. Ann. Code Ann., State Gov’t §§ 20-603, 20-606, 20-61
Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers, including state and local governments, with 15 or more employees, are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities. Title I protects qualified individuals with disabilities in several areas, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation and job training. It is also unlawful to retaliate against someone for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on disability, or for filing an ADA discrimination charge. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) shares enforcement authority for Title I of the ADA with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which has primary responsibility for enforcing the employment provisions of the law. (Note: Federal employees and job applicants are covered by Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 instead of the ADA.