Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

In Oklahoma, state employees are protected by state and federal laws that guarantee their religious rights and provide for reasonable accommodations. These accommodations allow employees to practice their religious beliefs without undue hardship to their employer. This article will explore the process of requesting and obtaining reasonable accommodations for state employees and how the Oklahoma Public Employees Association can help

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or alterations that enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform their job duties, apply for a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.

There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:

Job Application Process: Modifying or adjusting the job application process to allow individuals with disabilities to be considered for a job. Examples include providing application forms in alternative formats such as large print or Braille.

Essential Job Functions: Modifying or adjusting the essential functions of the job to enable qualified individuals with disabilities to perform them. This may involve providing sign language interpreters or assistive technology.

Equal Benefits and Privileges: Modifying or adjusting workplace facilities, policies, or practices to ensure that employees with disabilities have equal access to benefits and privileges of employment. This can include removing physical barriers in cafeterias or providing accessible transportation.
If you are a state employee in Oklahoma and require reasonable accommodation, it is important to follow the proper procedures.

Here are the steps to request a reasonable accommodation (If you are an OPEA Member call us first):

Begin Early: Start the process early to provide your employer with adequate notice. Check the state agency handbook for guidance on specific procedures for requesting accommodations.

Make a Written Request: Submit a written request for a reasonable accommodation, even if you have already discussed it with your manager or HR. This can be done by filling out Form 14CR003E, Request for Reasonable Accommodation.

Specify Religious Beliefs or Practices: Clearly state in your written request that the accommodation is needed due to your religious beliefs or practices.

Keep Records: Keep a record of how your request was made, including dates, people you spoke to, and their responses. This documentation will be useful if your request is not addressed or accommodated.
Be Respectful: When making your request, maintain a respectful tone. Employers are generally willing to work with employees to provide reasonable accommodations, so avoid being aggressive or making threats.

Whether an accommodation is considered an undue hardship for the employer is determined on a case-by-case basis. Factors considered include the cost of the accommodation, potential impact on workplace safety and efficiency, and any infringement on the rights of other employees. Employers are not required to provide the exact accommodation requested, but they must provide a reasonable accommodation that meets the employee’s needs.

If your request for reasonable accommodation is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision.

For assistance or questions regarding reasonable accommodations, you can contact Dixie or Gene at OPEA (405)-524-6764 or visit us at www.opea.org

Oklahoma Administrative Code 340: 1-11-41 provides guidelines for the reasonable accommodations process for state employees.

Remember, the goal of reasonable accommodations is to ensure that employees can perform their work without undue hardship. By following the proper procedures and maintaining open communication with your employer, you can work towards obtaining the accommodations you need to thrive in your job.

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