Can my wife make her employer help her with accommodations for a certification exam?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my wife make her employer help her with accommodations for a certification exam?

My wife has been working for a major university in Missouri since 2011. The position is related to the research field. The job requires that all employees in her position obtain a specific certification after they have been working for a certain period of time. My wife has a diagnosed learning disability. Although she is able to perform her job with no problems, she had difficulties in college with test taking and retention….professors were able to make accommodations for her to take test with longer periods of time, notes, etc. With her current job, she has taken the certification test once, and has not passed. She has received a letter from one of her managers that states she will be terminated by the end of the year if she has not completed the certification exam. Legally, can she make her employer come up with accommodations that could help her in the process? The test she needs to take is a nationalized type of test. She is trying to work with her managers and HR, but she is worried they will not be willing to help her?

Asked on February 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the test were under the university's control, it is very likely that they would have to accommodate her, such as with extra time. But an employer's obligation to reasonably acommodate employees is limited to things under their control; they have no obligations about or for things they do not control. If the certification is from a national test offered by someone or some entity not controlled by the university, there is no reasonable accommodation about or for the test which they can offer. And if the certification is reasonably related to the job, they can require it even if obtaining it is more difficult for your wife, the same way that they may require certain degrees even (e.g. a college degree) even of learning-disabled employees.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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