Most business owners are familiar with some aspects of employment law in Dallas, TX. They know that they are prohibited by law from discriminating against their employees based upon race, religion, gender, age and disability. However, they may not know that certain employees must receive reasonable accommodations at work based upon their protected class. Employers looking to avoid employment discrimination lawsuits should remain aware of which employees should receive reasonable accommodations and what constitutes “reasonable” in this context. Most employment law protects employees, and business owners must stay on top of the law to protect themselves from costly, time-consuming litigation.
Employment Law in Dallas, TX: Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or potential employees on the basis of that employee’s disability. In addition to its prohibition on discrimination in hiring, promotion, compensation, and firing decisions, the ADA also requires that employers provide disabled employees with a known disability with “reasonable accommodation.” A disability is known if the employee points it out to the employer and/or asks for the accommodation, or if the disability and accompanying need for accommodation are obvious.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a reasonable accommodation is “any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. (EEOC Q & A on the ADA)” For example, a disabled employee may need special equipment to perform the work, or he or she may need to take more breaks, or his or her office may need relocation to permit wheelchair access. However, an employer does not need to provide accommodation that will cause the employer undue hardship.
The ADA also requires reasonable accommodation for pregnant women, who are considered disabled under the Act if a pregnancy-related condition causes disability, or if the pregnancy interacts with an underlying impairment and causes a disability. The employer must provide reasonable accommodation to the employee in that situation as long as the disability is known. However, it is worth noting that an employee’s visible pregnancy is not enough to establish “knowing”, as pregnancy itself is not a disability; the employee must have a pregnancy-related condition or an underlying impairment to qualify for reasonable accommodation.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based upon race, religion, and sex, also requires reasonable accommodation of an employee’s religious beliefs. Reasonable accommodation in this instance means providing breaks, allowing days off to observe religious holidays, permitting employees to wear certain types of dress, and so forth. For example, if an employee’s religious beliefs compel him to pray five times per day, his employer must provide him the opportunity to do so unless such accommodation creates an undue hardship for the employer.
While not every accommodation request from an employee will be reasonable, a business owner who fails to provide reasonable accommodation can face legal troubles. Any employer facing a reasonable accommodation request should consult with experienced employment law counsel to determine whether the accommodation is reasonable and whether it causes an undue hardship to avoid lost time and unnecessary expense. The attorneys at Simon | Paschal PLLC have years of experience representing business owners on matters of employment law in Dallas, TX; concerned employers can call (972) 893-9340 for a consultation.
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