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Does My California Employer Have to Accommodate My Disability?

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees with physical or mental disabilities. In fact, California employers have an affirmative obligation to take steps to make sure that disabled employees are provided reasonable accommodations at work for their disability so that they actually can continue to work, despite their disability.

Specifically, employers must provide reasonable accommodation for employees who, because of their disability, are unable to perform the essential functions of their job. Employers must have a good faith interactive process with employees to better understand the needs of the disabled employees and provide the accommodations necessary to allow that employee to perform his work.  However, an employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s disability in every situation.  If the employer shows that an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business, the employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s disability.

Below, our Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyers break down these points.

What Is Reasonable Accommodation?

An accommodation is any change in the application or hiring process, work environment, or job duties which would allow a qualified, disabled employee or applicant to:

  • Apply for a job
  • Perform the essential functions of the job
  • Enjoy employee benefits and privileges

An accommodation is reasonable if it does not create undue hardship to the employer.

What Are Some Disability Accommodation Examples?

Accommodations for disabilities vary depending on the unique circumstances of the disabled employee or applicant. A few common examples of reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • Modifying work schedules
  • Adjusting job duties
  • Relocating the work area
  • Granting leave of absence for medical care
  • Providing special furniture, equipment or aids

What Is an Interactive Process?

An employer does not have to provide accommodation if there is undue hardship. However, an employer must engage in a timely, good-faith interactive process with the employee. During this process, the employer must work with the employee to:

  • Determine the essential functions of the job
  • Identify the employee’s limitations
  • Explore accommodations that would allow the employee to perform the essential job functions despite those limitations

Then, the employer should actually weigh the overall effect to the business of providing the accommodation that would be required. The employer should do this before coming to a decision on whether to make the necessary accommodation.

What Is Undue Hardship?

Under the FEHA, an accommodation is reasonable if it does not impose an undue hardship on the employer’s business. An undue hardship is found when there is significant difficulty or expense to the employer with respect to:

  • The nature and cost of the accommodation
  • Overall resources of the employer
  • Type of business entity involved
  • Overall financial resources of the facility where the employee is or would prospectively be employed

Discuss Your Situation With Our Los Angeles Disability Discrimination Lawyers

Are you disabled and believe that your employer failed to make reasonable accommodation for your disability in the workplace? Did your employer fail to engage in the interactive process with you to determine if a reasonable accommodation could be made?

We encourage you to discuss the facts of your particular situation with our Los Angeles disability discrimination attorneys. We can answer any legal questions you may have. We may also be able to help guide you in the right direction about a possible disability discrimination claim. Call us today at (310) 499-0140 or fill out our online contact form to get started.

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