How long does an employer have to respond to an accommodation request?

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There is no specific amount of time that employers have to respond to a reasonable accommodation request, but they should respond as quickly as possible. Unnecessary delays to respond to or carry out an accommodation request can result in a violation of the ADA.

Once the employers respond, they should also carry out the accommodation promptly. Even when you and your employer need to talk about possible options for accommodation, the discussions should take place as soon as possible.

What if my employer says no to an accommodation?

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If your employer refuses your accommodation request, ask for a written denial with an explanation of the reason. This way, you can figure out what to do next. For example, if your employer refused your request because your medical information did not show that you have a disability, you can give your employer additional information. Or, if your employer decided that the accommodation you requested would pose an undue hardship, you could suggest other options or ask to your employer if they have a suggested accommodation they believe could work. If you or your employer does not come up with another suggested accommodation, you can request that you and your employer consult with someone knowledgeable about accommodations, such as staff at the Job Accommodation Network.

If you think that your employer has no valid reason to refuse your request, or your employer will not tell you why the request was refused, you can appeal the decision to someone higher up at your workplace, file a grievance with your union if you have one, or file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Arizona Civil Rights Division (ACRD).

For more information about how to file a discrimination charge with the EEOC or ACRD, see DB101's Know Your Rights and Responsibilities article. Keep in mind that you are not required to appeal the refusal higher up in the company before you file an employment discrimination charge. But if you do choose to take these steps, you must file your discrimination charge within the deadline for EEOC and the ACRD, even if those steps have not been completed. The deadlines for filing with the EEOC or the ACRD do not stop while you are following the company procedures.

What if I need another accommodation in the future?

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You can ask for accommodations multiple times, and for multiple reasons. It is illegal for the employer to reject a request simply because you have previously asked for an accommodation, as the situation may have changed. Reasons for denying a prior accommodation request may no longer apply. For example, your condition may have become less or more disabling, your job duties may have changed, the employer’s operations may have become more profitable, or other accommodations may have become available that were not available in the past.

Some people only need one reasonable accommodation, while others may need more than one. Still others may need one reasonable accommodation for a period of time, and then, at a later date, require another type of accommodation. An employer must consider each request for a reasonable accommodation on a case-by-case basis.

Can my employer retaliate against me for asking for an accommodation?

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It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against you (get back at you) for asserting your rights under the ADA. If your employer retaliates against you for requesting an accommodation, you may report the retaliation to someone higher up in the company or agency or contact the EEOC.

More information about contacting them is included in DB101's Know Your Rights and Responsibilities article. Keep in mind that you are not required to first report the retaliation to higher management before you file a retaliation charge. If you choose to do so, you must file your discrimination charge within the deadline for EEOC and the ACRD.

What can I do if I think I am being discriminated against?

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If you think you have been discriminated against (treated unfairly or unequally) at work because you have a disability, were denied a reasonable accommodation that you requested, or were retaliated against for asking for your ADA rights, you should contact the EEOC or the ACRD as soon as possible.

Under the Arizona Civil Rights Act, a charge of disability discrimination in employment must be filed within 180 days of the date of discrimination. Under the ADA, a charge of discrimination generally must be filed within 300 days of the date you were discriminated against. If you do not file within these deadlines, you could lose the right to file a discrimination charge, or later bring a lawsuit under the ADA or ACRA. If you have missed the Arizona 180 day deadline, you should still contact the EEOC because of the longer 300 day deadline that applies to the federal ADA.

If, after finishing its investigation, the EEOC decides that you have been discriminated against, the EEOC will attempt to get your employer to voluntarily comply with the ADA and provide you with solutions to address the discrimination you faced. For example, the EEOC can ask an employer to provide, where appropriate, back pay, rehire, promotion, provision of a reasonable accommodation, emotional distress damages, and if you had an attorney, attorney expenses for legal services. If an employer refuses to agree to provide this type of relief, the EEOC may bring a lawsuit on your behalf.

If the EEOC does not choose to sue, you will have the right to bring your own lawsuit under the ADA. To learn more about how to file a complaint or lawsuit, see DB101's Know Your Rights and Responsibilities article.