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Q&A: Can I ask applicants if they need a reasonable accommodation to perform the job?

No, for the most part asking an applicant whether they need an accommodation would constitute a pre-employment disability inquiry, which is prohibited under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Prior to making an offer of employment, you should only ask whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation. You can and should, however, describe the physical demands of the job (e.g., regularly lifting up to 30 pounds) as well as the physical layout of the workspace in both job postings and job descriptions. Doing that will enable potential applicants to determine for themselves whether the job is something they can physically do. However, be careful not to exaggerate the physical requirement of the job—doing this will limit your candidate pool and could be discriminatory if the requirement is not job-related and consistent with business necessity.

For more information about disability inquires and accommodations, search “ADA” on the HR Support Center.

Answer from Margaret, PHR, SHRM-CP:

Margaret holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Portland State University and a Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management. She has worked in a variety of HR roles in a multi-state capacity. Margaret regularly attends seminars and other continuing education courses to stay current with new developments and changes that affect the workplace and is active in local and national Human Resources organizations.

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