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Is proof of disability required for an accommodation request?

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2023 | Social Security Disability

Many employers try to be sensitive to their employees’ needs, including making reasonable accommodations when necessary. Oftentimes, requests do not represent any problems.

However, your employer may have some suspicions that you are asking for accommodations that are a lot more about “wants” and not about “needs,” and you fear that your request is likely to cause some conflicts. Your request to take over the corner office so that it’s closer to the bathroom, for example, may require your employer to displace another employee that’s already there – and they’re not convinced that the extra 10 feet make any difference.

What right does your employer have to ask more questions or request proof of your disability and needs? Here’s what you need to know.

It’s an interactive process, and some requests are reasonable.

Your AWDA rights

Nobody holds all the power in this situation because the Americans With Disabilities Act (AWDA) requires that accommodation requests be handled through an interactive process. That means there may be considerable back-and-forth between you and your employer as you work out exactly what you need and how those needs can be met.

It’s good to be cautious about intrusions into your privacy, but your employer does have a right to make inquiries about your disability as it relates to your job. It’s also reasonable for your boss to ask for documentation from your doctor with the doctor’s recommendations – which could be illuminating. For example, if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the doctor may say you need unlimited bathroom breaks and the ability to work from home during bad flares. That’s a bit different than saying you need to be right next to the bathroom at all times.

Sometimes, what seems perfectly reasonable to an employee can be a nightmare for employers – but that doesn’t mean that they should be unwilling to work with you. If you believe that your employer is refusing to accommodate a disability, it’s only prudent to find out more about your legal options.