There are new regulations and agency interpretations of the law.
In 2016, the EEOC issued a new resource page explaining its interpretation that the ADA requires employers to treat requests for leave as requests for reasonable accommodation, and in 2013 it published guidelines in addressing accommodation of religious practices, including dress codes. The agency has also announced that it treats lactation as a pregnancy-related medical condition that requires accommodation.
There are some new court decisions.
In 2012, the Ninth Circuit held that the ADA does not protect employees from discrimination based on the use of the medical marijuana, even in states that have legalized medical marijuana, because marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law. The Massachusetts Supreme Court is currently considering whether an employer unlawfully discriminates by firing an employee for medical marijuana use.
In Young v. United Parcel Service, decided in 2015, the Supreme Court outlined the requirements for a pregnant employee to establish a prima facie case of disparate treatment based on an employer’s refusal to provide a reasonable accommodation during pregnancy.
Some accommodations cost less.
An accommodation is reasonable if it allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace without creating an undue hardship for the employer. Cost has always been a factor in the accommodation an employer can reasonably offer. Innovations and changes driven by technology may mean that accommodations cost less.
There are societal changes that matter.
Like the rest of employment law, reasonable accommodation is a subject that requires regular attention from HR professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel.