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How a retail store can accommodate employees with disabilities

If you work at a retail store and have a disability, it can be frustrating to suggest accommodations to your supervisors only to have them say, "Oh, that is not possible," and to disregard all of your suggestions. The unfortunate reality is that some companies are not as interested or invested as they should be in fostering accessible workplaces, and this can sometimes cross the line into illegality. It also tends to be bad for the bottom line, as a store that does not treat its employees well might not treat its customers all that great either.

So, if you have a disability and work in retail, what could your employer be doing better?

Accessible organization

If part of your job requires that you access materials on shelves, then a reasonable accommodation would probably be for your employer to reorganize the shelving and filing system to make materials more accessible. If you are in a wheelchair, you could shelve the items you need lower and within your reach. If you are deaf, employers could transcribe audiotapes. If you are blind, labels could be in large print or Braille.

Accessible organization can also mean workspaces that are free of clutter so people in wheelchairs and those who are blind can get around with ease. There should be a policy of not leaving boxes or similar objects in the middle of an aisle where it would present a hazard for an employee.

Physical tasks

Some retail jobs require lifting of heavy objects as well as overall bending, twisting and reaching. Such tasks can prove difficult for some employees, such as those undergoing certain medical treatments or recovering from them. Their doctors may order them not to lift anything heavier than 25 pounds, for example. If lifting was the major part of this person's job, perhaps a move to a cashier position or something like that could be in order. The employer could also have the employee stock lighter-weight items instead. This area can be tricky, as the Americans with Disabilities Act might not apply to some situations. A lawyer may be able to help clarify any issues.

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