Due to being poisoned at work by chemicals in Sept, 2011, on Nov. 15, 2011 gave employer 1st Reasonable Accommodation Request due to chemical sensitivities, they returned it wanting specific details on what exactly I would need accommodations from. Gave detailed 2nd request Feb 17, 2012, now they want a doctors diagnosis for needing the accommodation and will not accept my Naturopath's word for it. In 30 years I haven't found a doctor who understands chemical sensitivities. Meanwhile, I keep getting exposed to situations & chemicals at work that are keeping me ill, Missing a lot of work and now they are building a case against me instead of making my accommodations. How long do they have to respond?
Reasonable accommodation issues are always very fact specific, and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Employers that are covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act are obligated to provide a reasonable accommodation to help an employee overcome their restriction so that the employee can perform the essential functions of his or her job. However, the reasonable accommodation cannot impose an undue burden on the employer. In some cases, there is no reasonable accommodation that will work. For example, imagine that a professional baseball player lost his vision -- went totally blind. I can't think of any modifications to the game of baseball that would allow a blind player to be able to continue to play. However, in many other jobs, loss of vision could be overcome through a variety of assistive devices. You and your employer must engage in a dialogue (called the "interactive process") to try to figure out if some reasonable accommodation, or set of reasonable accommodations, would work in your case. During that interactive process, employers will want to get specific information regarding the nature and expected duration of the employee's restriction.
Is it even possible for the employer to remove the offending chemicals from your work location? If not, is it possible that you could be transferred to a different location that does not have the offending chemicals? Or, is it possible to transfer you to an open position for which you are qualified, and that is away from the offending chemicals? Explore these options (and any others that you can think of) with your employer. However, you should understand that there are many situations in which an effective reasonable accommodation is simply not available. If that is true in your case, then your employer would be within its rights to terminate your employment and hire someone else. I certainly hope that you avoid that possibility.
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