How to Request Reasonable Accommodations
It is your obligation to request accommodations. Unless your employer knows you need them, your employer is under no obligation to provide them.
Once you have made a request, your employer is required to sit down and talk with you about how your needs can be met. This is sometimes called the “flexible interactive process.” In this process, your employer can require that you provide evidence of your disability and need for accommodations.
You should consider making a written request for accommodations. While not technically required, a written request provides helpful clarity to employers and documents your efforts should legal action become necessary in the future.
It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for requesting accommodations.
What are some tips for getting accommodations?
- Read your employee handbook to see if your employer already has an accommodations request procedure or a non-discrimination policy. Your employer may have an established a process you should use.
- Be specific. Explain exactly what accommodations you need and why they will assist you in doing your job.
- Provide documentation from your health care professional in your request.
- Keep a detailed record of all of your communication with your employer, including copies of all correspondence and notes of any conversations you have had.
- Educate. Many employers are unfamiliar with diabetes and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Consider sharing information from the American Diabetes Association, the Job Accommodations Network, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with them.
- Negotiate. Be willing to work with your employer to identify potential accommodations and discuss what will and will not work.
- Consider proposing a trial period so your employer can get a better sense of how a specific accommodation will work.
How can I help my health care professional understand my right to reasonable accommodations?
Health care professionals—including endocrinologists, family practice doctors, and nurse practitioners—play a critical role in making sure that their patients are treated fairly at work. By documenting your need for specific accommodations, they can help you keep your job, allow you to be considered for the promotions you deserve, and dispel your employer’s fears about diabetes.
You can share our article from Practical Diabetology with your health care professionals about how they can help advocate for their patients. You may also want to give them our position statement on Diabetes and Employment.
The Legal Advocates at the American Diabetes Association are always happy to speak with health care professionals about how to advocate for patients.
Do I need to provide my employer with all of my medical records or allow my employer to speak with my health care professional?
No. There are strict limits on what information your employer is permitted to request. If you request reasonable accommodations, you must provide sufficient documentation to establish your disability and your need for accommodations, but you need not provide additional information.
Your health care professionals should not communicate with your employer without your permission. It is best for them to communicate only in writing rather than speaking directly with your employer. For further information, see the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s enforcement guidance and questions and answers on this issue.