EMPLOYERS' USE OF WORKPLACE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR RETAINING EMPLOYEES WITH DISABILITIES.
Oire, Spalatin Nyanaro
Gold, Paul B
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Two decades since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons with disabilities still face employment challenges in the workplace. Reasonable accommodations (RA) have been associated with overall job satisfaction, enhanced job tenure, and, increased job performance for employees with disabilities. However, reasonable accommodation stakeholders still struggle with how best to effectively meet the needs of employees with disabilities in order to maximize their employability. Few studies have specifically examined the criteria that employers use to determine responses to reasonable accommodation requests by employees with disabilities. A sample of U.S. employers was asked to respond to a reasonable accommodation scenario, and rate the influences of a priori identified items on their response to the accommodation request. Exploratory factor analytic procedures and regression analyses are used to identify the factors correlated with employers' likelihood of approving or denying reasonable accommodation requests. Three factors were identified to underlie the criteria for employers' accommodation decisions - employer logistics and obligations in providing accommodations, relationships between employer and employee, and accommodation costs and resource. Employers' gender and having a centralized budget process for supporting accommodations were found to significantly predict with their response to accommodation requests among employer and organizational variables respectively. Our understanding of the rationale by which employers respond to reasonable accommodation requests is essential to seeking solutions for hiring and retaining persons with disabilities. The three criteria by which employers make accommodation decisions will assist employment service providers to better focus ADA knowledge and awareness training workshops for employers. Employees with disabilities will structure their accommodation requests to address or meet employers' criteria and maximize the potential for positive responses from their employers.