If you have a disability, your employer is required to provide you with reasonable accommodation in California. But what happens if your employer refuses to accommodate you? Or if you are retaliated against for requesting an accommodation?
At Pimentel Law, we have extensive experience litigating cases involving reasonable accommodation in California. A reasonable accommodation lawyer can help you to determine if you have grounds to pursue a case.
Reasonable Accommodation Requirements
The Fair Employment and Housing Act’s (FEHA) disability and accommodation laws (Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940, et seq.) apply to just about every employer in California that has at least five employees.
The FEHA requires your employer to make reasonable accommodations for your medical condition, physical disability or mental disability unless doing so would be an undue hardship on its business operations.
Reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, granting a leave of absence to recover from an injury, reassignment to a vacant position, restructuring job schedules and responsibilities, acquiring or modifying equipment or devices and providing interpreters or readers.
A medical condition is a health impairment related to or associated with cancer or any genetic characteristic that is associated with a disease or disorder.
A physical disability is defined as a disorder, disease or condition that limits a major life activity. “Physical disabilities” include conditions such as a back, neck or knee injuries, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, epilepsy, seizure disorder, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, obesity, hypersensitivity to tobacco smoke and high blood pressure.
A mental disability is defined as any mental or psychological disorder or condition that limits a major life activity. “Mental disabilities” include intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness or learning disabilities.
“Major life activity” is defined broadly, and includes any physical, mental, or social activities, including working, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and interacting with others.
To be eligible for accommodation, your employer must be aware of your disability or medical condition. Once your employer becomes aware of this, it is required by law to initiate a timely, good faith, “interactive process,” which is an informal process between the employer and employee to attempt to identify a reasonable accommodation that will enable the employee to perform the job effectively. During this process, the employer is required to explore the alternatives to accommodate the disability. Indeed, employers are required to try in good faith to determine which reasonable accommodation in California may be most appropriate. Once the interactive process is initiated, the employer’s obligation to engage in this process in good faith is continuous. It extends beyond the first attempt at accommodation and continues when the employee asks for different accommodation. Your employer’s failure to take part in this process in good faith may be grounds for filing a discrimination suit against your employer.
However, to qualify for accommodation, you must be able to do the essential functions of an available vacant position with or without accommodation. “Essential functions” means the fundamental job duties of the employment position you hold or desire. “Essential functions” does not include the marginal functions of the position.
Lastly, keep in mind that the FEHA prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for taking or requesting a reasonable accommodation in California.
Limitations to the Reasonable Accommodation Rule
Your employer has the right to deny your request for a reasonable accommodation in California if this would pose an undue hardship on the company. What constitutes undue hardships differs based on factors such as the employers’ size, staffing and the cost of the accommodation to the employer. What may be reasonable for a large employer may not for a smaller employer.
Protect Your Rights Pertaining to Reasonable Accommodation Today
If you feel that your disability is not being accommodated, a reasonable accommodation lawyer at Pimentel Law can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.
We stand out among other disability discrimination attorneys in Los Angeles because of our commitment to do whatever amount of work it takes to achieve your desired outcome.