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Reasonable Accommodation
Mar 13, 2001

I work in a Call center where every second is monitored as to how productive I am as an employee. I have full blown Aids and at various times during the day have to go to the restroom due to constipation, etc. etc. Is is a reasonable accomodation to ask that my productivity should be less of a concern and my health more so, in that it would not be held against me for taking the time to go to the restroom? I am not taking any hiv medications at present, but am going to start soon, I fear, from past experience with adverse drug reactions the situation will worsen.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Working in a call center is about as tough as it gets for reasonable accommodation. Here's what I suggest: reasonable accommodation means a change in work rules or work setting that would allow you to continue working and to fulfill all of the essential functions of your job. Start with your health care provider. Ask for a note to your employer requesting permission for you to visit the bathroom more often because of a disability that s/he is treating you for. Give the note to HR or an employee nurse rather than your supervisor if you can. Your diagnosis is not the issue here--it's your need to use the bathroom more often. They should certainly accommodate such a simple request, but they may tell you that if they do it for you, they'd have to do it for everyone, so they won't do it. Tell them that's not your understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Sometimes employers with little experience of reasonable accommodation need some help figuring it out. Is there an AIDS service center nearby that has a legal department? This would be familiar to them, and if your request is not granted, I would recommend that you approach them next.



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