Accommodating the Disabled
10 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2000
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable workplace accommodations to the disabled. This essay addresses the meaning of "reasonable" in this context. It argues that the meaning cannot be grounded on a cost-benefit calculation because any calculation is impossible when the accommodation of a single employee's disability is at stake, not because the cost to the employer of the accommodation is necessarily unknowable, but because the gain to the disabled worker cannot be measured. The essay surveys 100 reported federal cases in 1999 raising Americans with Disabilities Act claims and concludes that the issue of what is a reasonable accommodation is vanishingly rare.
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