The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) both mandate that employers make necessary and reasonable accommodations for qualified persons with disabilities, provided that the necessary accommodations don’t place an undue hardship on the employer.
A reasonable accommodation, by definition, is any adjustment or modification to a job, the work environment of an employee, or to the way things are typically done that would enable a qualified person with a disability to receive an equal employment opportunity. It is also considered any adjustment or modification that allows an employee to perform the functions of a job that employees without disabilities perform. The reasonable accommodation is difficult to navigate, and employers commonly mistakes or simply do not make reasonable accommodations. Here is a list of the most common employer mistakes.
Failing to Recognize An Accommodation Request
Many employers do not have a policy in place regarding how accommodation requests should be made. It is best to request accommodations through your employer’s human resources department. Not all employers have human resource departments. If that is the case with your employer, a request should be made to the manager or owner of the business. If a lower level supervisor is notified, they have a duty to report the accommodation to the responsible person. If there is a policy in place, follow the policy.
Request For Protected Medical Information
An employer’s ability to inquire about or request medical information is restricted by federal and state laws. Generally, it is against the law for an employer require you to provide documentation of your disability and other protected medical information before approving an accommodation. It is also unlawful to share an employee’s medical information or condition or accommodation with others. Only your manager needs to know of the nature of an accommodation and that approval of the accommodation has been granted.
Denial of A Request For Accommodation Because The Requestor Did Not Provide A Solution
An employer is required by law to engage in the process of determining whether a reasonable accommodation can be made regardless of whether or not the requestor offers a solution.
The obligation that an employer provide reasonable accommodations is an ongoing duty which may arise when an individual’s disability or job changes. In order for an employer to lawfully deny an accommodation, the employer must be able to prove that the accommodation would create an undue hardship. Proving that an accommodation is an undue hardship is not easy for employers. By itself, financial difficulty is not generally sufficient evidence.
Aiman-Smith & Marcy have more than 60 years of experience representing individuals with disabilities who have experienced discrimination in the workplace. Contact our attorneys today at 510-817-2711 or contact us online for a free consultation.