When it is Reasonable for Europeans to Be Confused: Understanding When a Disability Accommodation is 'Reasonable' from a Comparative Perspective
24 Pages Posted: 6 May 2008 Last revised: 4 Jun 2008
The article discusses the meaning of the concept reasonable accommodation for persons with a disability from a European perspective. The requirement to provide for such accommodations flows from Article 5 of the EC Employment Equality Directive (2000/78). In spite of this common origin, the article notes that that EC Member States have transposed and interpreted the obligation in a variety of different ways, and no common understanding of, in particular, the notion of reasonableness with regard to an accommodation, exists. Instead, the article identifies three different ways in which the term reasonable has been understood. In the first approach, an accommodation will only be regarded as reasonable if it does not impose excessive difficulties or costs on the employer or other covered party. According to the second approach, an accommodation will be regarded as reasonable if it is effective in allowing the relevant individual to carry out the necessary (employment related) tasks. The last way is which the term reasonable is used in legislation is to convey both that the accommodation must be effective and that it must not impose significant inconvenience or cost on the employer or covered party. Given that this approach also seems to be adopted in Article 5 of the Employment Equality Directive, the European Court of Justice will be confronted with the task of interpreting, and thereby enabling national courts to apply, this dual meaning in the future.
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