How to Request Workplace Accommodations
What are workplace accommodations?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “A reasonable accommodation is any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities.”
Examples of workplace accommodations for migraine include flexible scheduling, teleworking capabilities, and measures to help reduce excessive sound and light. Here is a more comprehensive list of accommodations for those working with migraine.
How to request an accommodation
Working with frequent migraine attacks can be a challenge. Accommodations can help. However, requesting accommodations from your workplace can be intimidating. As migraine is still a stigmatized condition, many people do not fully grasp the true severity. It can help to know that
1) you may be entitled to these accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and
2)accommodations tend to be inexpensive and quite effective.
Know that you never have to disclose your actual diagnosis if you are not comfortable. 1 You can simply state something like, “The fluorescent lighting in the office is exacerbating my medical condition, and I would like to discuss some potential accommodations so that I can function more effectively and productively at work.” However, if you are comfortable, you may attach relevant medical documentation.
Note that employers are allowed to ask for further medical information and explanations for how you are affected by the tasks. 2 If you wanted to avoid saying migraine, you could explain that the flickering of the fluorescent lighting triggers nausea, pain, and fatigue.
Under the ADA, employers are allowed to deny a request if the accommodation would put an undue hardship on the employer. For example, if the accommodation is too large of a financial strain or if it would negatively affect others in the workplace, it may be refused. 3 Therefore, going into this meeting fully prepared can be very helpful to ensure your employer approves your request.
Keep a written record of all interactions surrounding this process. Keep notes of all conversations and interactions. Decide who should be included in this process. Human Resources (HR) tend to be the standard recipients, but your managers or supervisors may also be included. Learn more about what happens on the employer side.
Some offices may have their own accommodation request forms. If that is available, use that. If not, this template may help provide guidance. Download and print out this template.
Workplace Accommodation Request Form
I, ______________________________, am an employee of _________________________ living with a disability. Under the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am requesting accommodations to better assist me work more productively.
Which tasks are currently limited by your medical condition? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What accommodations do you believe would help mitigate these limitations?
Thank you for your assistance, and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
1)EMPLOYEES’ PRACTICAL GUIDE TO REQUESTING AND NEGOTIATING REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, Job Accommodation Network, <https://askjan.org/publications/individuals/employee-guide.cfm>
2)EMPLOYEES’ PRACTICAL GUIDE TO REQUESTING AND NEGOTIATING REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, Job Accommodation Network, <https://askjan.org/publications/individuals/employee-guide.cfm>
3)EMPLOYEES’ PRACTICAL GUIDE TO REQUESTING AND NEGOTIATING REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, Job Accommodation Network, <https://askjan.org/publications/individuals/employee-guide.cfm>