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Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

California Workplace Discrimination Attorneys

Both California law and federal law prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of a worker’s disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that employers across the nation provide reasonable accommodations - or changes to the workplace or the job itself - to allow employees with disabilities to be able to do their job.

Likewise, under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (CFEHA), employers may not discriminate against individuals based on medical conditions. Many times medical conditions also overlap with mental or physical disabilities. California law also requires employers provide reasonable accommodations.

What Is the Definition of Reasonable Accommodations?

Generally speaking, a “reasonable accommodation” is the assistance with or changes to a position or workplace by an employer that will allow the employee to perform his or her work despite having a disability.

The ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees who have a disability unless it would pose the company an undue hardship. A qualified employee under the ADA is someone who has the necessary skills, degrees, and experience for the position and who can perform its essential functions with or without an accommodation.

Similarly, the CFEHA also requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees, who have a medical condition that prevents them from performing the job’s essential functions. California requires the employer engage in a timely and good faith interactive process with employees seeking reasonable accommodations.

A “reasonable accommodation” in California is any change that would allow the employee or job applicant to perform essential job functions. California employers must provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would produce an undue hardship. State law defines undue hardship as requiring significant difficulty or expense.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Modifying existing facilities so that they are usable by disabled employees
  • Restructuring jobs
  • Modifying training materials and exams
  • Providing a reasonable amount of additional unpaid leave for medical treatment
  • Hiring interpreters or readers to assist employees
  • Providing workplace specialists to assist in training
  • Allowing a service dog to accompany the employee to the workplace
  • Transferring an employee to the same job in another location for access to better care

Determining Undue Hardship

Both the ADA and the CFEHA do not require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations if doing so would cause an undue hardship. Under the ADA, in order for an employer to establish that the particular accommodation would present an undue hardship, it must demonstrate it is too extensive, costly, or disruptive to be adopted in the workplace.

Factors that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency tasked with enforcing the ADA, look to when determining undue hardship include:

  • The nature of the accommodation in question
  • The financial resources of the employer
  • The nature of the business such as size, structure, and composition
  • Accommodation costs that are already incurred in the employer’s workplace

Under the CFEHA, several factors are considered when determining whether or not undue hardship exists, including:

  • The nature of the accommodation in question
  • The financial resources of the facility involved, including the number of employees, and effect on expenses and resources or other impact on the facility
  • The financial resources of the employer, the number of employees, locations, and types
  • The nature of the business, such as overall financial resources, size, structure, and composition
  • The administrative relationship, fiscal relationship, or geographic separateness of the facilities

We Can Assist with Your Employment Discrimination Case Today

If you, or someone you know, believe an employer has discriminated against you based on your disability or any other protected status, contact our experienced attorneys at Haig B. Kazandjian Lawyers, APC to learn about your legal rights.

We take on cases throughout the state of California, and we are prepared to fight for you. Call (800) 576-4620 to schedule a consultation with our legal professionals.

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