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Work How To Request And Negotiate An Accommodation At Work

Step 7. How To Negotiate For The Accommodation You Need

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Since a discussion about an accommodation should be a friendly negotiation, it is generally preferable to start the process by meeting face-to-face with the appropriate human relations person.

When you negotiate for an accommodation, keep in mind that it is up to your employer to decide what accommodation to grant, and that the employer can shut down the negotiation. 

Tips for the negotiation:

  • Do not make the negotiation a power struggle. You are not adversaries. You are on the same team with the same goal. You both want to get the job done -- and done well.
  • Negotiate in a friendly manner.  A demand for an accommodation or a threat of a lawsuit could make your employer much less willing to work with you. Most people don't respond well to demands or threats. You can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar!
  • Present your request in a manner that permits you and your employer to come together cooperatively to address the concerns of both parties. For example, "here's the problem I'm having. I have an idea that would be useful. If you have a more practical idea, that would be helpful."  Or "I'd appreciate any ideas you may have as well."
  • Stick to the basics. Don't get into too much detail. If the employer wants more information, you will be asked.
  • Don't expect your employer knows what your disability is and why you need what you need. You may think it's obvious to your employer and that the employer knows as much as you do, but that is not necessarily the case. In fact, don't assume the employer knows anything about the situation.
  • You do not have to use the words "Americans With Disabilities Act" or the name of your state law. If your employer needs education about the law and an employer's obligations, you can recommend speaking (for free) with the Job Accommodation Network at 800.526.7234 ( offsite link).  
  • Be prepared in the event you reach a stalemate with your employer, or your employer wants to stop the discussions entirely.  If this happens, or even if the conversation does not go well, consider asking that the conversation be adjourned to another day so both of you can "sleep on it" and then meet again.  It's best not to have an all-out "knock down, drag out" confrontation.   

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