Reasonable Accommodations Cases

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
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