EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.
ADA: Reasonable Accommodation
This is in response to your letter of February 3, 2004, in which you asked whether it is a reasonable accommodation for an employer to provide a means for safe disposal of needles or syringes that must be used by employees with medical conditions, such as diabetes. You mention that there are a number of cost-effective solutions for disposing of used needles and syringes, such as disposal by mail.
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities unless to do so would cause an undue hardship. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. An employer does not have to provide personal use items as reasonable accommodation when such items are needed in accomplishing daily activities both on and off the job.
Applying these principles, an employer would not be required to provide needles or syringes used in the treatment of medical conditions, such as diabetes, because these instruments are needed on and off the job. Persons with medical conditions requiring the use of needles or syringes also must safely dispose of these items whenever they are used away from home. Therefore, because the issue of safe disposal is not unique to a workplace, an employer does not have a duty to collect and dispose of used needles and syringes as a reasonable accommodation. Of course, an employer voluntarily may choose to provide a solution for safe disposal.
This letter is an informal discussion of the issues you raised and does not constitute an official opinion of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I hope this information is helpful.
Senior Attorney Advisor
This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.
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