Experienced Reasonable Accommodation Attorneys for Employers and Employees in Los Angeles, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura Counties

In the Employment Context, what is a Reasonable Accommodation for a Disability in California?

A federal law titled the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) protects “qualified employees” who have disabilities and prohibits “covered employers” from discriminating against or treating their employees differently due to their disabilities. In California, employees have even greater protections because of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. (“FEHA”). The protections offered by the FEHA are independent of those provided by the ADA.

When an employee has a “qualified disability,” the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act require the employer to provide a reasonable accommodation unless doing so would constitute an undue hardship. This means that the employer must make a reasonable accommodation for the known disabilities of applicants and employees to enable them to perform the “essential functions” of the position unless doing so would constitute an “undue hardship.” A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to the workplace that enables the disabled employee to perform the “essential functions” of the job.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities in the Workplace Can Include:

  • Making facilities readily accessible to and usable by disabled individuals (e.g. providing accessible break rooms, restrooms, training rooms, reserved parking places, acquiring or modifying furniture, equipment or devices, or other similar adjustments)
  • Job restructuring
  • Offering part-time or modified work schedules
  • Reassigning to a vacant position
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices
  • Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies
  • Providing qualified readers or interpreters
  • Allowing assistive animals on the worksite
  • Altering when and/or how an essential function is performed
  • Modifying supervisory methods
  • Providing additional training
  • Permitting an employee to work from home
  • Providing paid or unpaid leave for treatment and recovery

This is not an exhaustive list and there are other accommodations that may be requested and required.

Determining A Reasonable Accommodation for the Disability of An Employee: The Good Faith Interactive Process

Under FEHA, an employer must engage in the good faith interactive process with the disabled employee to explore the alternatives to accommodate the disability. It is unlawful for an employer to fail to engage in a timely, good faith interactive process with a disabled employee to determine effective reasonable accommodations. Once initiated, the employer has a continuous obligation to engage in the interactive process in good faith. The fact that an employer took some steps to work with an employee to identify reasonable accommodations does not absolve the employer of liability.

Limitations on An Employers’ Obligation to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation.

While employers must provide reasonable accommodations, there are limits on the employer’s legal obligation.   For example, the employer is not required to promote or create a new position to accommodate a disabled employee.  Similarly, if the employer can demonstrate that accommodating the employee’s disability would cause an undue hardship on its operations, the accommodation is not required.  “Undue hardship” is defined as an action requiring “significant difficulty or expense” when considered in light of the following factors:

  • Nature and cost of the accommodation needed, taking into consideration the availability of tax credits and deductions and/or outside funding;
  • Overall financial resources of the facilities involved in providing the reasonable accommodations, the number of persons employed at the facility and the effect of the accommodation on expenses and resources or on the operations of the facility, including the impact on other employees’ ability to perform their duties and the facility’s ability to conduct business;
  • Overall resources of the covered entity, the overall size of the business with respect to the number of employees, and the number, type and location of the covered entity’s facilities;
  • Type of operations of the employer entity, including the composition, structure and functions of its workforce; and
  • Geographic separateness, administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities involved.

To determine an employee’s rights, and an employer’s obligations in a particular situation employers and employees in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, or San Bernardino are invited to consult with our employment law attorneys

Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. Fights for Reasonable Accommodation Rights in Southern California

If your employer in California is not providing reasonable accommodation for your disability, consulting one of our experienced employment lawyers will be beneficial for several reasons:

Understanding your rights: A lawyer specializing in employment law will help you understand the specifics of the California employment law and your rights as an employee with disabilities.

Navigating legal processes: If your employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodation, this could be considered discrimination. Our lawyers can guide you through the process of filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or other relevant bodies.

Evaluating the reasonability of accommodations: Not all accommodation requests need to be complied with under California employment law. A lawyer can help evaluate the reasonability of your request and advise on the best course of action.

Representing you in legal proceedings: If your employer continues to deny reasonable accommodation, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. Having a lawyer represent you can increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Remember, each case is unique, so it’s crucial to consult with an experienced employment lawyer who can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances. Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. offers a complimentary consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Reasonable Accommodation in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, and San Bernardino

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables an individual with a disability to have equal employment opportunities. These can include adjustments to the application process, changes to the work environment, or modifications that enable an employee to perform the essential functions of their job.

How does an employee request a reasonable accommodation?

An employee should inform their employer about their need for an accommodation due to a disability. The request can be oral or written and doesn’t need to include any special language. It is advisable to make the request in writing for documentation purposes.

Is an employer allowed to ask for medical documentation?

Yes, an employer may request medical documentation to verify the existence of a disability and that an accommodation is needed.

What if the specific accommodation I want is not provided?

Employers are required to engage in a timely, good faith interactive process to determine effective accommodations. If the specific accommodation is not reasonable or would cause undue hardship to the employer, alternatives must be considered.

How quickly must an employer respond to a request for accommodation?

There is no specific timeline, but an employer should respond as quickly as possible. Unnecessary delays can result in a violation of the FEHA.

Can an employer deny a request for reasonable accommodation?

An employer can only deny a request for accommodation if it can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

What can I do if my employer has denied my accommodation request?

You may file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in California. You can also seek legal advice to determine if there is a basis for a discrimination claim.

Are all businesses in California required to provide reasonable accommodations?

Most businesses with five or more employees are covered by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and are required to provide reasonable accommodations. Employers with fewer employees may still be covered by other laws.

Featured Reasonable Accommodation Laws:

Cal. Gov’t Code § 12926(p)

“Reasonable accommodation” may include either of the following:

(1) Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.

(2) Job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11065(p)

“Reasonable accommodation” is:

(1) modifications or adjustments that are:

(A) effective in enabling an applicant with a disability to have an equal opportunity to be considered for a desired job, or

(B) effective in enabling an employee to perform the essential functions of the job the employee holds or desires, or

(C) effective in enabling an employee with a disability to enjoy equivalent benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by similarly situated employees without disabilities.

(2) Examples of Reasonable Accommodation. Reasonable accommodation may include, but are not limited to, such measures as:

(A) Making existing facilities used by applicants and employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This may include, but is not limited to, providing accessible break rooms, restrooms, training rooms, or reserved parking places; acquiring or modifying furniture, equipment or devices; or making other similar adjustments in the work environment;

(B) Allowing applicants or employees to bring assistive animals to the work site;

(C) Transferring an employee to a more accessible worksite;

(D) Providing assistive aids and services such as qualified readers or interpreters to an applicant or employee;

(E) Job Restructuring. This may include, but is not limited to, reallocation or redistribution of non-essential job functions in a job with multiple responsibilities;

(F) Providing a part-time or modified work schedule;

(G) Permitting an alteration of when and/or how an essential function is performed;

(H) Providing an adjustment or modification of examinations, training materials or policies;

(I) Modifying an employer policy;

(J) Modifying supervisory methods (e.g., dividing complex tasks into smaller parts);

(K) Providing additional training;

(L) Permitting an employee to work from home;

(M) Providing a paid or unpaid leave for treatment and recovery, consistent with section 11068(c);

(N) Providing a reassignment to a vacant position, consistent with section 11068(d); and

(O) other similar accommodations.

Contact Us When You Need an Employment Law Attorney for Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Orange, Oxnard, Riverside, or San Bernardino.

Call us today at (818) 509-9975 or contact us online to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. We have extensive experience in all aspects of employment law, including reasonable accommodation cases.

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