If you make a request with your employer for a reasonable accommodation, can your employer demand proof of your disability? This guide explains.
Can Your Employer Demand Proof for Reasonable Accommodations?
In some cases, it’s possible for an employer to ask for proof of an employee’s disability before granting a request for reasonable accommodations. In many cases, this is completely legal. However, in some cases employers are not allowed to ask for proof of a disability. What it really comes down to is whether your disability is obvious.
If your disability is obvious, your employer is not supposed to ask you about your disability and how it impacts your ability to work. For example, if you tell your employer that your wheelchair does not fit under your desk that is obvious. However, if you have add disability such as a back injury that isn’t readily apparent to your employer, your employer may legally ask you for documentation about the severity of your injury and how it impacts your ability to work.
Related: What disabilities are protected against discrimination?
The Discussion About Reasonable Accommodations Should Be… a Discussion
when you discuss reasonable accommodations with your employer, neither side should be making demands. You’re simply asking your employer to make it possible for you to perform the essential functions of your job, and if your employer isn’t sure about how your disability affects your performance, they are entitled to ask follow-on questions to get you the help you need.
Good employers typically seek out information, including the disabled employee’s input, to find the right accommodations for that worker.
Related: Disability discrimination in the workplace
Are You Required to Provide Proof of Your Disability to Request Reasonable Accommodation?
You are not required to provide any type of proof to your employer. However, you should know that if your disability isn’t obvious, and your employer asks for proof which you fail to provide, your employer may turn down your request for reasonable accommodations. Usually, employers are within their rights to do so in cases like this.
Employers are allowed to ask for reasonable documentation. That means your employer may only require you to provide documentation that’s necessary to establish the fact that you have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that the disability necessitates a reasonable accommodation. That means your employer cannot ask you for documentation that isn’t related to determining the existence of a disability and the necessity for an accommodation (such as your complete medical records).
Additionally, employers are allowed to require you to bring in documentation that comes from an appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional. However, employers are supposed to specify the type of information they’re seeking regarding your disability, what limitations you suffer because of the disability, and the need for a reasonable accommodation.
It’s important that you know employers are not required to get documentation when you request a reasonable accommodation. Your employer is allowed to simply discuss the issue with you and then make the appropriate decision.
What is an Obvious Disability?
An obvious disability is one that an employer knows about or should reasonably have known about. For example, if you use a wheelchair to move around, it should be evident to your employer that you have a disability that requires you to use a wheelchair. However, if you have a shoulder injury and don’t have it in a medical device, that disability is most likely not obvious. Likewise, other disabilities, such as learning disabilities, hearing (and some vision) impairments, and even diabetes are not obvious unless you tell your employer that you have them.
Because it is your personal information, you are permitted to tell your employer that you have a disability that isn’t obvious. You may also provide documentation if you wish.
Related: Is there anything you can do about disability discrimination at work?
What if You’ve Already Provided Proof?
If you have already provided proof of your disability or condition too your employer, but your employer still requires more proof, it may be up to you whether to provide it. You should consult with an attorney about your options at this point.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Providing Your Employer With Proof of a Disability?
If you need to speak to an attorney about the legality of providing proof to your employer regarding a disability and reasonable accommodation request, we’re here for you. Call us at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation. We can answer your questions and help ensure that you’re moving in the right direction.