Understanding Reasonable Accommodations

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January 29, 2022

Most jobs are filled with many challenges. Long commutes, demanding bosses, and tedious tasks are just some of the normal difficulties faced by employees. Nevertheless, everyday workplace challenges are magnified for disabled workers and can lead to them facing insurmountable hardships.

Fortunately, disabled California employees are entitled under federal and state law to be provided with reasonable accommodations from their employers. While these laws give disabled workers additional rights, there is also a lot of confusion surrounding disabilities and reasonable accommodations. If you have questions about this area of employment law, continue reading this blog and contact an experienced employment lawyer

Federal and California Disability Law

Both federal and state law protects disabled workers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically Title I, is the federal law that protects disabled employees from discrimination by private employers.

Disabled workers in California are also protected by state law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). This law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee or job applicant based on disability. It also requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to disabled employees whenever possible.

Do You Have a Disability?

Disabilities are broadly defined by the FEHA, which can sometimes make it difficult to determine what constitutes a disability. In general, the law recognizes both physical and mental conditions as disabilities, as well as genetic disorders. The main factor in determining if a condition is a disability is whether or not it limits a major life activity. 

Both temporary and chronic conditions could qualify as a disability. Some examples of potential disabilities include:

  • Neuropathy
  • Heart disease
  • Back injury
  • Wrist injury
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cancer
  • Paralysis
  • Arthritis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Hearing loss

Despite suffering from these debilitating conditions, most disabled employees want to work and excel at their jobs. They just need a little help from their employers. This brings up the issues of reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable Accommodation Requirements and the Interactive Process

In California, employers are required to initiate an interactive process when an employee requests reasonable accommodations. An employer must also offer to initiate an interactive process when they become aware that an employee may need reasonable accommodations. 

An interactive process begins with an employer and employee discussing the employee’s disability and the possible accommodations required for the employee to perform their job. If you want to ask for accommodations, you should consult your employee handbook for the relevant procedures. It is also recommended that you consult a doctor so that your disability is documented.

Reasonable accommodations can vary significantly depending on the type of workplace as well as the nature and severity of the disability. Examples of accommodations include:

  • Ergonomic chair or keyboard
  • Extra time to complete tasks
  • Hearing assist phones
  • Additional rest breaks
  • Department transfer
  • Shift transfer
  • Voice assist software

Schedule a Free Consultation

If you are a disabled employee in California, and your employer is refusing to grant reasonable accommodations, you should seek the assistance of an employment lawyer. Call our firm today at 415-484-0980 or contact us online.




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