It is not enough to submit accommodations requests and have them be put aside while you wait to hear an answer.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act the employer, public services or public accommodations person handling the request must come back to you and discuss your requests. You have power here to advocate for yourself. You may be asked to provide additional ‘reasonable’ documentation describing your diagnosis from a medical professional. You may be asked how the reasonable accommodation you are seeking ‘links’ to your disability.
What is not acceptable is for an employer, public services or public accommodations ADA liaison to not engage with you in writing or by phone or in a meeting concerning your request.
Take control of the accommodations request by following up and making an appointment to speak with the person you sent the request to or ask for a reply by date in a written request.
Prepare yourself by
1) Bringing your original request. 2) Bring medical documentation of your disability. 3) Create a numbered list of the requests (if more than one). 4) Go through each request and ask: a. Is this accepted? b. Is this denied? 5) Be prepared to address alternatives or counter-offers – this is a negotiation:
For example, if you are seeking an ergonomically correct chair that costs $5,000 and you are offered a chair that has the same function that will support your disability costing $800.
Heart of advocacy – the interactive process vs the cooperative dialogue when negotiating ADA Accommodations
If you are seeking accommodations in NYC – effective July 18, 2018 an amendment to the New York City Human Rights Laws (NYCHRL) broadens the ‘interactive process’ as stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act to a ‘cooperative dialogue’.
“Cooperative dialogue” is a new term to the NYCHRL and is defined under the Ordinance to mean the process through which an employer and a person who may be entitled to an accommodation under the law engage in good faith in a written or oral dialogue concerning the person’s accommodation needs, including alternatives to the requested accommodation, and the difficulties that any potential accommodations may pose for the employer. (Cite: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/new-york-city-expands-reasonable-accommodation-response-requirements).
The new law makes it illegal for failure to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” within a reasonable time with a person who has requested an accommodation. (To see the law use this link: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/cchr/downloads/pdf/amendments/Int.%20No.%20804-A.pdf) The law applies to:
Operators of public accommodations and
Operators of all housing
The ‘cooperative dialogue’ requirement does not address those who offer public services, such as local and state governments. The interactive process continues to apply.
This article does not constitute legal advice. The Americans with Disabilities Act is a very complex set of laws designed to protect the civil rights for persons with disabilities. If you have a question, please contact Donna Drumm at DDrumm@DrummAdvocacy.com or another attorney knowledgeable with the Americans with Disabilities Act.