Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide employees who have disabilities with reasonable accommodations to ensure they can have equal access in the workplace. Employees may need to formally request their accommodation through the company’s specific procedure or by sending a letter. Part of the accommodation process may require a reference letter. If you are tasked with writing a reference letter for an employee who is requesting an accommodation at work, be sure to provide professional and truthful communication.
An accommodation letter request for a reference will need to be sent to a human resources representative or decision-maker within the company. Be sure to address your letter to the right party. If you don’t know who to address the letter to, you can address it “To whom it may concern.”
It’s important to write your reference letter using formal business language. Use block style and align all content to the left side of the page. Single space your accommodation reference letter and add a double space between paragraphs.
Begin your letter by outlining the background information in detail. State who you’re writing this letter for and your relationship to them. You will also need to mention the employee’s role at the company. This is particularly important if the employee works for a large organization with many staff members.
For example, “I am writing this accommodation reference letter for Jane Johnston, who is the receptionist at SquareBox Inc. I am Jane’s physical therapist and have been working with her on her rehabilitation as a result of her car accident for the last three months.” This introduction tells the reader why you are poised to provide a reference for this employee, in addition to informing them of the details they need to know.
In the next paragraph of your recommendation letter for accommodation, discuss the particular changes the employee requires in order to complete the requirements of their role. Be sure not to share any confidential medical information with the employer without the employee’s permission. Instead, focus on the kinds of workplace barriers the employee may face, and how the employer can help overcome them.
For example, “Tom requires a screen reading software to be installed on his computer at work so that he can fully participate in his role. This will ensure Tom is able to understand emails, documents and other content that is shared with him at work.” If the letter of accommodation from the employer requires further specifics in your reference letter, such as recommendations for types of assistive technologies, provide suggestions if you have the expertise and knowledge to do so.
The employer may have additional experience in making specific accommodations, so be sure to ask the employer to share some of their ideas. For example, “I understand that you have some expertise in this area. Mike and I are both interested in hearing your suggestions to make the workplace more accommodating for him.”
Close your recommendation letter for accommodation by offering to speak with the employer to provide further details. For example, “If you’d like to discuss the accommodations that Trina has requested further, I’m available to speak with you on the phone or in person. Don’t hesitate to contact me at the number below.” The employer may want to know more about how they can accommodate the employee, or they may want more information on your credentials or relationship to the employee.
Thank the employer for their time and their efforts in making the workplace accessible for all employees. For example, “I sincerely appreciate your time. Thank you in advance for making the workplace more accessible for Jason.”