Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are required to offer employees with disabilities reasonable accommodations that will provide them with the ability to apply for or perform the necessary functions of their positions. Employers will often attempt to shrug off this responsibility by claiming that providing the employee with a reasonable accommodation would cause the company to suffer an undue hardship. However, in order to prove an undue hardship and avoid a Texas disability discrimination claim, the employer must provide evidence showing that the accommodation would result in a significant expense or difficulty.
Although employees may request a specific reasonable accommodation, employers may provide their own accommodations. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) looks at various factors to determine whether the hardship is significant or whether the accommodation is appropriate.
When Is Light Duty Considered a Reasonable Accommodation?
Light duty is a malleable term that is applied differently depending on the employment setting. Broadly, light duty is considered to be a type of temporary or permanent work that is less strenuous than an employee’s normal job duties. Light duty can be applied in both physical and mental-health contexts, and it is relative to the particular position.
Under the ADA, employers are not required to create light duty work, but, if an employer does have a light duty position available, they must consider that as a reasonable accommodation. Furthermore, if an employer has a light duty position available or if they generally provide light duty as a reasonable accommodation, they may do so on a temporary basis. Employers often attempt to restrict the length of time light duty work is available. In such cases, an employer’s policies and practices are likely to be called into question by the ADA or EEOC.
There are many instances when light duty would be an appropriate accommodation, such as when an employee is pregnant. About four years ago, the EEOC issued guidelines on accommodating pregnant workers and providing opportunities for light duty. In these instances, an employer still does not need to provide the accommodation if it is an undue hardship, but the EEOC provided lengthy guidelines on how to accommodate pregnant women.
Another situation in which light duty can be considered a reasonable accommodation is when an employer reserves certain positions for employees who are injured on the job. In these cases, an employee with a disability that is unrelated to the work should be reassigned to an available light duty position — even though it was reserved for employees injured at work.
Have You Been Denied a Request for Light Duty as a Reasonable Accommodation by a Texas Employer?
If you have been denied light duty as a reasonable accommodation, you may be entitled to relief for the damages you sustained as a result of the discrimination. The laws surrounding light duty as a reasonable accommodation are complicated and are very fact-specific. These cases can depend heavily on an in-depth analysis of the employer’s policies and practices. The Dallas disability discrimination lawyers at Robert Wiley, P.C. can assist you in understanding your rights and remedies. Contact the office at 214-528-6500 to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our dedicated and experienced Texas employment lawyers.
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