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Work How To Request And Negotiate An Accommodation At Work

Step 5. Be Prepared To Negotiate

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Be prepared to negotiate in person for the reasonable accommodation you want. Deciding on an appropriate accommodation should be a process that addresses the mutual needs of both you and your employer.

Identify the person to speak to in the human resources department or in a supervisory capacity following the normal chain of command in your company.

When thinking about what to request, consider your employer's point of view   Be prepared to talk about your employer's needs in addition to your own.

  • Your employer needs someone to do your job, to do it well and at or close to a pre-determined cost. 
  • Perhaps your employer has additional concerns in general, or specifically about you or your job. How can you satisfy those concerns? 
  • If you were your employer, what would convince you to grant the accommodation you want?

Even if you don't care about the needs of your employer, now is a good time to fake it.

Employers are obligated to negotiate in good faith. They cannot just say "no." In fact, employers must engage in an "interactive process" in good faith.

  • Keep in mind that  while an employer is obligated to negotiate in good faith, there is no obligation to agree to a specific accommodation.
  • An employer doesn't have to agree just because you identify an accommodation that you believe would work for you and not impose an undue burden on your employer.

Likewise, you don't have to accept the accommodation that your employer suggests -- but you don't want to just reject it without any negotiation or alternative position. This doesn't mean you have to roll over, but you do have to show a show a willingness to negotiate.

If you're going to present your request in person, practice what you want to say. A particularly helpful way to practice is in a mirror, keeping eye contact with yourself. Keep repeating the points you want to make until you're comfortable with them and can say them in a friendly, natural manner. Actors on a stage are comfortable with what they do because they rehearse and rehearse and rehearse.

Look for someone with whom you can "game plan" the meeting -- a person who can pretend to be the person to whom you're going to negotiate an accommodation.

If you don't think you should negotiate for yourself, your local disease specific non-profit organization may have someone available to do the negotiation for you. If not, an attorney, social worker, or health finance counselor could do it for you. 

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