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ADA Rules For Undue Hardship

The following is excerpted from our ADA Training & Certification Program:
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Undue Hardship

The determination of whether an accommodation is reasonable is based upon whether implementation of the accommodation will present an undue hardship on the employer.

Undue hardship means there will be significant difficulty or expense incurred implementing the accommodation and focuses on the resources and circumstances of the particular employer in relationship to the cost or difficulty of providing a specific accommodation.

Undue hardship is not based just on financial difficulty; it refers to reasonable accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.

Each situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a particular reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship. What may be an undue hardship to one employer may be reasonable for another employer.

Factors to be considered when determining whether undue hardships exist are:
  • The nature of the accommodation
  • The net cost
  • Financial resources of the employer
  • The number of persons employed
  • The effect on expenses and resources
  • The size of the business
  • Type and location of its facilities
  • Type of operation
  • The overall impact of the accommodation
  • The overall impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties
  • The overall impact on the facility's ability to conduct business
Undue Hardship Questions

When reviewing an accommodation to determine the impact on the workplace, there are several fundamental questions that should be asked.
  • Is there evidence that providing a specific reasonable accommodation would entail significant difficulty or expense? Being able to show the actual cost of implementing an accommodation is a good starting point
  • If the accommodation will be a modified schedule or leave, is undue hardship based on the impact on the ability of other employees to do their jobs? Look at the impact on the way the employees meet the requirements of the organization. The fact that employees are not happy with the change is not an argument for undue hardship – it is the impact on the way employees must do their jobs
  • If the accommodation is a leave of absence, is undue hardship based on the amount of leave requested? Will the leave be of such a duration as to have an impact on the company’s ability to provide its goods or services? Or will the organization be able to absorb the absence of the individual for the time requested?
  • Will the claim of undue hardship be based on a conflict between the reasonable accommodation and the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement? If the collective bargaining agreement will be violated by the accommodation, the accommodation needs may be negotiated between the employer and the union
  • Is undue hardship based on the fact that providing the reasonable accommodation requires changes to property owned by an entity other than the Company? Changes to leased property may be addressed in the lease agreement. Before any changes are done, the tenant should consult with the landlord to ensure there will be no additional liabilities
  • If the Company claims that a particular reasonable accommodation would result in undue hardship, is there another reasonable accommodation the Company could have provided that would not have resulted in undue hardship? All options should be considered. Each situation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis
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