72 Am. U. L. Rev. 1971 (2023).
Reasonable accommodations should be tools of equality yet can feel more like punishment than remedy. To receive accommodations, people with disabilities must disclose intimate details about their health. The accommodation process that follows disclosure is arduous, dissuading many people with disabilities who need accommodations from requesting them.
Even if accommodations are granted, institutional enforcement is not guaranteed. Instead, the labor of implementing reasonable accommodations often falls to disabled people themselves. Accommodated people with disabilities also endure remarks about receiving “special” treatment for disabilities that are allegedly exaggerated or faked. Though people with disabilities may bring failure to accommodate claims when reasonable accommodations are denied, the law does not adequately protect them against the discrimination that occurs when accommodations are granted. This Article identifies experiences deeply familiar to people with disabilities to explore how rules intended to perpetuate equality foster discrimination. It focuses on reasonable accommodations in the workplace and higher education to highlight the mistreatment of accommodated people with disabilities.
* Associate Professor of Law and Director, Disability Law and Policy Program, Syracuse University College of Law. During the 2022–23 academic year, the Author served as Special Counsel for Disability Rights in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and focused on amending the regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. I thank Alyson Acheson, Doron Dorfman, Victoria Haneman, and Jesus Rodriguez for their support. I also thank the American University Law Review editors for their wonderful work on this piece. Finally, I am grateful to the disabled students and colleagues who trusted me with their stories and inspired this Article.