When Does An Employer In California Have A Duty To Accommodate A Disabled Employee?


Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees due to a disability. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), federal law also makes it a requirement to provide reasonable accommodations for that employee in order to empower them to do their job. California law goes even farther. Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), all employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees who, due to mental disability, physical disability, or medical condition, are temporarily unable to perform essential functions of their job. But how far do these accommodations need to be taken? Exactly when does an employer in California have a duty to accommodate a disabled employee?

Neither the ADA nor the FEHA specify exactly how or when a California employer has a duty to accommodate a disabled employee. It is generally interpreted broadly from the “reasonable” guidelines given. Common interpretations of the law indicate that any accommodation that does not impose an enormous expense or alteration in key business operations should be made. Still, the following are some commonly cited examples of reasonable accommodations that California employers should be expected to make in most situations:

  • A temporary or extended leave of absence
  • Part-time or modified work schedules
  • The ability to telecommute or work from home
  • Job restructuring or reassignment to a similar open position that is easier to perform with the employee’s disability
  • Distributing part of the disabled employee’s duties to other members of the team (without overburdening other employees)
  • Assistive devices
  • Easy access to disabled bathrooms, parking spots, and other special facilities
  • Interpretive services or devices
  • Permitting assistive animals in the workplace
  • Additional or modified training and exams
  • Modified supervisory methodology

Of course, these examples are not all the accommodations that may be appropriate. Also, just because some employees may be entitled to a certain modification, it does not mean that everyone will be granted such an accommodation. The exact circumstances will be analyzed individually to determine what accommodations may be appropriate and when.

One thing is clear, however; all employers in California have a duty to accommodate a disabled employee in some way. If you feel that your disability is not being given fair accommodation in the workplace, call the employment lawyers at Wakeford Law today. We can analyze your case and help you better understand your options, as well as fight to get you the accommodations you need to excel. You may even be owed compensation for workplace discrimination. Let us fight for your rights.

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