Reasonable Accommodation Of Disability

California and federal laws protect employees with actual or perceived physical and mental disabilities. These laws also require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees in need of them. A reasonable accommodation is a modification to the workplace (physical, procedural or schedule wise) that permits a disabled employee the opportunity to continue to work.

Communicating With Your Employer

When an employer learns an employee may need an accommodation, the law puts an affirmative duty on the employer to engage in dialog with the employee to determine whether a work accommodation is necessary. If an accommodation is necessary, the employer must provide it to the employee to continue to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

The key to this interactive process is flexibility on the part of the employer to do what is necessary to accommodate the employee. So while the employee may not be entitled to the accommodation of his or her choice, he or she should be provided one that is reasonable under the circumstances. It is important to remember the employee has an obligation to keep open lines of communication with his or her employer throughout the process, but the employee need not reveal his or her diagnosis if he or she chooses not to reveal it.

Many employers try to circumvent the interactive and accommodations process by placing an employee who could be accommodated on a leave of absence, or some other leave (such as the FMLA or CFRA). However, this is not lawful, because when an employee can work with a reasonable accommodation other than a leave of absence, an employer may not require the employee take a leave.

What Type Of Accommodation Do You Need?

As stated, reasonable accommodations are intended to be flexible and depend upon the nature of each job. Examples of accommodations include:

  • Reassignment to a vacant or temporary position
  • Making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by employees with disabilities
  • Changing job responsibilities or work schedules
  • Modifying or providing equipment or devices
  • Providing qualified interpreters or readers
  • Providing other similar accommodations for an individual with a disability

The reasonable accommodations process is required whether the disability is work-related or occurred off the job. An employer may not require an employee to be 100 percent before returning an employee to work after an injury or illness.

Contact Us To See If You Have A Claim

If you believe your employer refused to accommodate a disability that would have permitted you to continue working, contact us and our law firm will carefully review your specific situation to determine all of your options. We care about protecting disabled employees' rights, and we will be here for you every step of the way. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us at 415-445-0900 or contact us online.