ADA requires the employer to provide reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities, including mental disabilities. https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/jobapplicant.html
For instance, ADA requires that employers give application tests in a format or manner that does not require use of your impaired skill, unless the test is designed to measure that skill, and it requires that a candidate with learning disability must be provided with extra time to complete a written test, etc.

However, I can't find any information on the reasonable limits of such accommodations. For instance, our company uses a quite standard testing process that includes solving algorithm tasks and whiteboard coding, brain teasers in pair with an interviewer.
Question: can a candidate demand us to change the procedure and exclude some or all of these steps, because 1) none of these tests represents normal work process and 2) these tests put her at undue disadvantage because of her Asperger's?

  • 7
    I'm not sure we can answer that here. Seems like you need an expert interpretation of the law.
    – Summer
    Dec 18, 2018 at 5:28
  • 2
    @bruglesco - It seems like this community that includes Experts in HR probably already know the answer to this. I find this to be a fascinating question. Dec 18, 2018 at 13:47
  • Does your company have a lawyer or legal team? Ask them if you do.
    – Dan
    Dec 18, 2018 at 19:24
  • 2
    As a high-functioning ASD, I'm curious what parts of this are supposed to be a problem. Dec 18, 2018 at 21:02
  • @DavidThornley people are different. Symptoms are different.
    – Asterea
    Apr 8, 2022 at 18:35

3 Answers 3


I'm not a lawyer

none of these tests represents normal work process

If this is true, you have a much larger issue than an ADA accommodation. If this is a dev position, then it is completely reasonable to ask the candidate to write code.

If you cannot reasonably argue your interview methodology demonstrates competence for the job, you need to change it now. Not because the ADA says so, but because you are hiring incompetent people.

Even without disabilities, individuals will act individually (read differently) in an interview. You need to be sure your interview process is not favoring one type of personality or quirk over another. Is your process heavily favoring loud brash people? People from a certain school? People of a certain age or gender?

Reading specifics, I believe algorithm question and white-board coding questions are a necessity. Coders need to write code (algorithms) and need to communicate ideas an issues with other coders (white-boarding). I would NOT ASK brain-teaser questions as they give the interviewer no useful information.

Finally, if you currently have any individuals with Asperger's (or any other disability), have you ask for their input?

  • " Coders need to write code (algorithms) and need to communicate ideas an issues with other coders (white-boarding)." - one may argue that coders do need to write the code, but 1) they don't usually write algorithms and 2) they don't usually write the code on the whiteboard (I've seen people using whiteboards for diagrams and sketches, sometimes a few lines of pseudocode, but never for writing the real code)
    – user_ok
    Dec 19, 2018 at 20:00

The issue with the statement may come with the full exclusion of the test portion:

...and exclude some or all of these steps...

Based on the link provided employers are under no obligation to omit a portion of the test but an applicant can ask (and employers are obligated to oblige within reason) for the test in a way such that their disability is not a factor.

An employer may have to provide testing materials in alternative formats or make other adjustments to tests as an accommodation for you. The format and manner in which a test is given may pose problems for persons with impaired sensory, speaking, or manual skills, as well as for those with certain learning disabilities. For example, an applicant who is blind will not be able to read a written test, but can take the test if it is provided in braille or the questions are tape recorded. A deaf person will not understand oral instructions, but these could be provided in a written format or through the use of a sign language interpreter. A 30-minute timed written test may pose a problem for a person whose learning disability requires additional time.

Unfortunately a lot of these things are subjective such as

  1. What if my disability prevents me from performing some job duties?

An employer does not have to hire you if you are unable to perform all of the essential functions of the job, even with reasonable accommodation. However, an employer cannot reject you only because the disability prevents you from performing minor duties that are not essential to the job.

This is where the employer has a fair bit of power. A case can be made that solving algorithm tasks, on a team or in a dynamic situation is the job and thus the inability to do so even with reasonable accommodation (more time etc.) would be disqualifying. They cannot however disqualify you for say, not being able to write on a whiteboard.

However, I can't find any information on the reasonable limits of such accommodations.

I was involved in an ADA project some time ago at work. Regrettably a lot of the regs are somewhat ambiguous and many of the cases are handled on a case by case basis (as is commonplace with law for that matter).

As mentioned by others, you need to involve your companies legal team. I and many others here are not lawyers and can not provide legal interpretations for you.

  • I'll play the devil's advocate. 1) People with autism have impaired verbal skills but usually have no problems with text; that means that the candidate could demand written communications instead of talking - as a reasonable accommodation, couldn't she? 2) From my experience, most companies encourage programmers to use pre-written algorithms, and writing your own algorithms is often a minus in the code review; the kind of the code you typically write on the interview is totally different from the normal code.
    – user_ok
    Dec 20, 2018 at 5:04
  • By the way, I wonder if there is any information about any such cases in public access?
    – user_ok
    Dec 20, 2018 at 5:06
  • @user626528 in response to your first point they could request a written version (as noted in the answer) what it seems they can not request is to have whole parts of the test removed. To the second point, most court cases are public info to some extent. Searching and finding them is a different story though.
    – Dave
    Dec 20, 2018 at 13:48

This is a very precarious area. Consulting with your company's legal representation (or someone they would retain if no one in-house has the expertise) would be the best move.

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