What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

According to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require employers to make reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with mental or physical disabilities to ensure such workers perform essential job functions or apply for jobs. 

Common examples of reasonable accommodations include: 

  • Change or reorganize job duties 

  • Allow a flexible work schedule 

  • Allow the employee to work from home, either full- or part-time 

  • Adjust or provide a piece of equipment, product, or software 

  • Improve accessibility throughout the workplace 

  • Provide reserved parking 

  • Reassign to a vacant role 

  • Allow service animals 

First, the employer must be aware of an employee’s disability. Either the employee must inform the employer directly or the employer learns of the disability by observation or through someone else. 

Once the employer knows of the condition, both parties must undergo an “interactive process” to determine the proper accommodation. This generally informal – but confidential – process is designed to identify the barrier the employee is experiencing and figure out a reasonable accommodation that will enable the employee to continue performing essential job functions – so long as the accommodation does not an “undue hardship” (i.e., an unreasonable or disproportionate obstacle or burden) on the employer. 

The following are several factors employers will consider determining undue hardship: 

  • The cost and nature of the reasonable accommodation 

  • The employers’ and facility’s financial resources to make the accommodation 

  • The type of operation of the workplace 

  • How the accommodation will impact the facility’s operations 

Ultimately, the employer decides an effective accommodation and creates a plan to put it into action, such as having the employee undergo training. This interactive process should be ongoing to ensure if the accommodation is working and make the necessary adjustments. 

If an employer denies a request for accommodation, they must provide a valid reason for the denial. If the employer cannot support the rejection, then the employee can take legal action against the employer. 

If your employer wrongfully denied you reasonable accommodation in California, contact Polaris Law Group today at (888) 796-4010 to learn how our firm can help you.

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