Simply put Reasonable Accommodation is a way of leveling the playing field for everyone. A way to make life 'fair'. Reasonable Accommodation has found its way into every aspect of our lives. Social, economic, work place, religion, physical ability and many other areas of daily life are affected.
Up front; I am not a proponent of legislating fairness. I believe that we make our lives the way they are and that if we want social or economic fairness we need to earn it. I believe that economic fairness, in most cases, is a situation that can be achieved through hard work and education. Society, much to the chagrin of that bleeding heart class of people, can not survive taking care of those who can but will not attempt to take care of themselves. Having said that, and with all of you thinking that I am a heartless bastard, I do have caveats.
Some times things happen that require human interaction to allow fairness to be applied evenly across the board. People with physical disabilities are probably in the largest category needing the application of reasonable accommodation. Through no faulty of their own they find themselves in a situation that requires a leveling of the playing field and I will be the first in line to help them achieve fairness in all aspects of their lives.
Reasonable Accommodation is a global concept with The United Nations out front pushing it. Most countries have some laws on the books in support of Reasonable Accommodation. Its scope has gone far beyond that of physical disabilities.
Being humans, and filled with more faults than one can enumerate, we need laws that push Reasonable Accommodation for religion and the work place. Trying to balance what is right for those in need of Reasonable Accommodation protection and those who need to provide it on the ground is like walking a tight rope.
The concept of Undue Hardship, balancing the needs of an entity that is responsible for providing Reasonable Accommodation with the entities needs for survival, was developed to assist in having fairness flow in all directions.
Lets say a small mom and pop store has a job opening and has a person with a physical disability apply for that job. They are qualified and the business wants to hire them. This particular business is located in an an older building that needs some construction to make access for a physically disabled employee to be accommodated. But the changes are expensive and beyond the reach of this particular business.
The question is, does a business have to go broke making changes that will meet the Reasonable Accommodation test? The simple answer is no. By law they could be exempted form these changes while still employing the person in question. It is fair that the physically challenged person has been hired and it is also fair that the business can hire them without suffering financial hardship.
That is a quite simple example but I think you will get the idea. The key here is that a level of fairness is achieved.
Extending the Reasonable Accommodation concept to the religious or even political areas is made necessary because we are humans and in being human we tend to try and impose our will on others.
Left to our own devices stronger humans would force their wills upon the weaker ones. One does not have to read beyond the headlines to see the truth in that statement.
I believe that a level playing field is the right of everyone as long as those that take advantage of the Reasonable Accommodation concept actually need the assistance.
Those that can do for themselves need to get off their collective ass and join the rest of us making our own way in the world.