The law applicable to persons with disabilities, the ADA, changed greatly in the year 2008. Congress and the EEOC made clear that your employer is to direct its focus not on whether you may have a disability, but what accommodations are appropriate for its employees with disabilities. Accordingly, employers are to make “reasonable accommodations” for their employees unless such an accommodation would cause an “undue burden” on the employer. For example, if you are otherwise qualified for your job as a cashier or postal clerk so long as you may sit down, you may be entitled to a seating accommodation to allow you to do your job. Additionally, if your eyes are sensitive to light due to an injury or illness, you may be entitled to wear sunglasses while working outdoors. Furthermore, you may even be entitled to job-protected time away from work as a reasonable accommodation if such leave is not otherwise unreasonable. This issue often arises in the context of an employee who has run out of FMLA leave but anticipates a return to work in the near future.
Your employer may be required to accommodate your religious practices under certain circumstances. This issue oftentimes arises in the context of scheduling (i.e., Christian church or mass attendance on Sunday, Jewish observance of the Sabbath on Saturday, etc.). Unless it is an undue burden, your employer must provide you accommodations to practice your religion. In the same respect, under many circumstances, your employer may have to provide an accommodation to its practices in order to allow you to wear religious garb. A recent example of this type of accommodation is the United States Supreme Court case, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch in which the Court held Abercrombie could not refuse to hire an employee who wore a headscarf to her interview out of fear it would have to provide her a religious accommodation to wear the headscarf while working, which it asserted was a violation of its “Look Policy.”
If you believe you are in need of a reasonable accommodation, or if your employer has denied you a reasonable accommodation requested as a result of your mental or physical disability or your religion, please contact us to further discuss your legal rights.