If You Have A Disability, Your Employer Is Required To Make “Reasonable Accommodations” To Permit You To Continue Working
If you are an employee in California with a disability, your employer is required to make reasonable accommodations necessary to allow you to continue working. This applies to any disability, whether it is physical or mental, that your employer becomes aware of. If you have a disability and believe your employer has failed to provide reasonable accommodation for you, or you believe you have been discriminated against because of a disability, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer.
What Does California Law Say About Reasonable Accommodations?
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees so they can continue performing “essential functions” of their job, unless doing so would create an “undue hardship” for the employer. Cal. Govt. Code § 12940(m); Cal. Code of Regs. § 11068(a).
An Affirmative Duty: California law imposes an affirmative duty on employers to provide reasonable accommodation when the employer (or a supervisor) becomes aware of a disability. Failure to make reasonable accommodations is against the law. Sargent v. Litton Systems, Inc. (N.D. Cal. 1994) 841 F.Supp. 956, 962.
Includes Applicants: The FEHA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations available to applicants for employment, not just current employees. Failure to hire because of a disability is disability discrimination and is also unlawful.
Perceived or “Regarded As” Disabled: Even if an employee is not actually disabled, but the employer perceives or assumes he or she has a disability, the employer is still required to provide reasonable accommodations.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
What type of accommodation should be made depends on each individual employee case. Here are some examples of reasonable accommodations:
- Making facilities readily accessible to and usable by disabled individuals (e.g., providing accessible break rooms, restrooms, training rooms or reserved parking places, acquiring or modifying furniture, equipment or devises or other similar adjustments);
- Job restructuring;
- Offering part-time or modified work schedules;
- Reassigning to a vacant position;
- Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices;
- Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies;
- Providing qualified readers or interpreters;
- Allowing assistive animals on the worksite;
- Altering when and/or how an essential function is performed;
- Modifying supervisory methods;
- Providing additional training;
- Permitting an employee to work from home;
- Providing paid or unpaid leave for treatment and recovery; and
- Permitting use of assistive animals
The “Interactive Process”
The Employer’s Obligation: The FEHA requires employers to engage in an “interactive process” with employees who request an accommodation for a disability. The interactive process means that the employer is required to communicate with the employee to determine what accommodation is appropriate. The employer is also required to engage in the interactive process even if the employee doesn’t request an accommodation, but the employer knows about the disability. Cal. Govt. Code § 12926.1(e).
The Employee’s Obligation: The employee has the responsibility to start the interactive process by requesting a reasonable accommodation. Once the process has begun, the employee must “cooperate in good faith with the employer” by providing “reasonable medical documentation” when the disability or need for accommodation is not obvious. Cal. Govt. Code § 12940(n). Typically, the employee must be able to provide the employer with a list of restrictions that must be met to accommodate the employee. Jensen v. Wells Fargo Bank (2000) 85 CA4th 245, 266.
An employer’s failure to engage in the interactive process is unlawful.
Contact Our Orange County Office Today
If believe you are the victim of disability discrimination, you should consult an experienced employment lawyer. Give the Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams a call today at 949-679-9909 for a free consultation. Delay could cause loss of your claim. You can also contact us through the form below and we will respond promptly.