All You Need to Know About Disability Accommodations in Ohio

Ohio law prohibits discrimination based on disabilities and specifies accommodations in private housing and employment settings. Here’s everything you should know about managing disability accommodations in Ohio.

People with a permanent or long-term physical or mental impairment can request reasonable accommodations from their employers and housing providers. Typical accommodations in workplaces include additional training, assistance with a job application, and the provision of special equipment. Housing accommodations usually include the permission of service animals, home health aides, the installment of grab bars or ramps, and disability parking spots. Employers and housing providers can deny accommodation requests if the accommodation fundamentally alters a job or dwelling.

What is a disability under Ohio law?

Ohio law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting major life activities such as walking, talking, hearing, working, performing manual tasks, or caring for oneself. Impairments must be permanent or long-term to qualify for reasonable accommodations. Addictions are not disabilities, but a permanent health condition developed as a result of the addiction can count as a disability.

Related: Ohio Disability Discrimination FAQs

Discrimination under Ohio law includes segregation, providing different treatment, or acting in a way resulting in disparate impacts in favor of protected groups. Employers discriminate against people with disabilities by firing or demoting them, declining to implement accommodations, refusing to promote them, or giving them lower wages and worker benefits. Housing providers discriminate by refusing to rent or sell a dwelling to a person with a disability, declining to install disability accommodations, or prohibiting tenants from adding reasonable modifications.

In a place of employment, reasonable accommodations are modifications allowing employees with disabilities to complete all tasks of the job and access all available environments. Reasonable accommodations in housing are adjustments or exceptions to policies, practices, or services meant to provide an equal opportunity of a dwelling’s enjoyment for people with disabilities.

Workplace Disability Accommodations

To request a reasonable accommodation at a workplace, a person must demonstrate their disability substantially limits their ability to perform major life activities. Once an employer provides reasonable accommodation, the employee with a disability must be able to complete all work tasks at the amount and quality the job requires.

Accommodations will vary significantly depending on the disability and workplace requirements. Some recurrent accommodations include:

  • Additional training for work tasks
  • Schedule modifications
  • Provision of special equipment
  • Assistance with the completion of a job application
  • Permission to use a job coach to adjust to the new job

Ohio law states if accommodations become fundamental alterations requiring employers to spend more than they can afford or change the job function completely, the accommodations are no longer reasonable. Hiring another employee to help a person with a disability with their tasks is not a reasonable accommodation.

A person with a disability can request the reasonable accommodations they need at any point in the job process. While Ohio law prohibits employers from not hiring someone based on their disability, proving the reason behind the rejection is a difficult task. Some people with disabilities may delay asking for accommodations until after being hired.

Employees with disabilities can request accommodations in writing or verbally. Others with close relationships with the employee, such as a family member or job coach, can submit the request for the employee. The request should explicitly state the employee’s disability and the necessary accommodation to avoid future conflict or confusion. Employers can request information about an employee’s disability if they keep these documents private. Employees can choose whether they want to sign a blanket medical authorization to allow the employer access to all medical records.

Private Housing Disability Accommodations

People with disabilities requesting reasonable accommodations from their housing provider must establish how the modification will lessen the detrimental effects of the disability on their use of the dwelling. Written statements from healthcare providers or evidence of prescription medications can support the person’s need for accommodation.

Related: Workplace Racial Discrimination in Ohio

Examples of usual housing disability accommodations include:

  • Allowing service animals in normally no-pet housing
  • Assigning the closest possible parking space to a tenant with mobility restrictions
  • Designating first-floor apartments for tenants with mobility restrictions
  • Allowing a home health aid without charging for another person
  • Releasing a tenant who must move due to the disability from a lease
  • Adding a ramp to access the main entrance
  • Installing bathroom grab bars

Ohio law specifies housing providers cannot charge a person with disabilities extra fees for their reasonable accommodation. If a tenant modifies the dwelling voluntarily with the housing provider’s permission, the tenant is responsible for the modification’s costs.

Ohio does not allow housing providers to ask if an applicant has a disability or about the disability’s severity. The law allows the housing providers to ask about addiction history or the applicant’s ability to meet tenancy requirements.

Housing applicants can request accommodations anytime, even if they are not yet occupying the dwelling. If a prospective tenant has a real estate referral agent, the agent should submit the request specifying the connection between the tenant’s disability and the accommodation. Housing providers can ask for additional disability documentation unless the disability is apparent or the housing provider is already aware of the disability and need for accommodation.

Housing providers can deny a request for accommodations if the impairment does not meet the requirements for a disability. A housing provider can claim the accommodation is unnecessary for the tenant or not reasonable due to the excessive financial burden it would cause the provider. Accommodations endangering other tenants are unreasonable under Ohio law. Housing providers may alter the accommodation request to find a more suitable option serving the same purpose.

FAQs About Disability Accommodations in Ohio

What should I do if I face discrimination at work because of my disability?

Workers facing discrimination due to their disability should file an employment discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC). Along with the complaint, employees should submit witness information, evidence of other workers treated differently, proof of the disability, and copies of requests for reasonable accommodations. Disability Rights Ohio provides detailed information on the necessary steps for filing an employment discrimination complaint.

How do I file a complaint for lack of housing accommodations?

People with disabilities can file a complaint for housing discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission within one year of the denied accommodation request. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development handles specific cases involving design and construction or tenant-on-tenant harassment.

How should employers manage reasonable accommodation requests?

Employers should recognize the written or verbal request and ask the individual specific questions about the requested accommodation. Implementing a trial period or assigning an employee to oversee the accommodation’s execution can be helpful in the process. Employers should monitor the effectiveness of the modification and make adjustments as needed by the worker with the disability.

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