How-to-Work-With-Your-Employer-for-Disability-Accommodation-ASM-Lawyers.jpg (2149×1159)Millions of Americans live with a disability every day and figure out how to make their lives work around the medical condition. From paraplegia to ADD, there are many different types of disability and most of them do not stop a person from effectively pursuing a career in something they know and love. But the disability can get in the way of thriving in a standardized work environment.

This is why the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) set up a framework by which employers can and must provide reasonable accommodation for disabled employees. Provided that you have all the required skills and abilities for the job but need equipment or a work environment to be minorly adjusted to your needs, an employer is obligated to do whatever they can to comply with your request for accommodation.

Negotiation for Accommodation

Your employer is required by law to provide accommodation, but not necessarily anything you ask for. They are required to enter a “flexible interactive process” to find an accommodating solution. Essentially, this means that you and your employer are supposed to work together to find the best accommodation.

Your employer is looking for accommodation that is affordable and simple to implement and you are looking for whatever will make your job more comfortable and possible to do. Most of the time, the employer and disabled employee can come to a workable compromise. But this is an effort for both sides of the table. Just as your employer must be willing to talk with you about possible accommodations, you need to be ready to work with your employer to find a solution that works for both parties.

Being flexible at the Negotiation Table

For those lucky enough to have an employer willing to openly discuss solutions, as the ADA intended, both sides need to be flexible about possible solutions. Don’t be surprised if your employer is hesitant to accept your first suggestions, and be open-minded that there might really be a better solution available.

Because this is your disability and you know it better than anyone, take the lead and frame out your needs directly for your employer. You need this kind of lumbar support or this color of light to be comfortable. Then be frank and ask what kind of limitations or priorities your employer will be bargaining for, like a tight department budget or concerns about distracting others. Approach your disability like a math problem you’re both trying to solve where you need X and Y, they need A and B, and you can find something that covers all points.

Be willing to do the research and even try low-cost solutions for a few days or weeks to see if they help. Your flexibility will also help your employer be flexible because they see that you’re not just making demands. You are trying to solve a problem.

Helping Your Employer with Their Counter-Offers

If your employer freezes up or denies your first suggestion without a counter-offer, this might not be obstinance or refusal. This might just be that they have no idea how to counter-offer or what to counter-offer with. If, for example, you ask for a new concrete ramp and they say no for budget reasons, you can take charge of their half of the negotiations as well. Try suggesting a steel portable ramp instead. Or that you be given a parking spot on the side of the building that already has a ramp.

It can help to come in armed with a list of possible solutions, as you can’t always predict what your employer will think is best. Even if they had no idea what to do when the conversation began. Be the expert on your condition by offering alternatives that would also serve your needs. 

If Your Employer Won’t Play Ball

These techniques can really help a disabled professional reach an accommodation agreement with their employer. Somewhere between flexibility and doing a lot of the research and negotiation yourself, your employer is far more likely to also be flexible and to pick a solution they’d like to try. Unfortunately, not all employers are so cooperative.

If your employer flat out refuses to give accommodations or only offers alternatives that won’t work for you, then this can quickly become an employee rights issue. They cannot refuse to negotiate and they are obligated to provide something as long as your demands would not financially or logistically disadvantage the company to a significant degree.

When an employer will not negotiate or accommodate or if they outright punish you for asking, then it’s time to seek out the help of an employment lawyer. Here at Aiman-Smith & Marcy, we are dedicated to helping employees stand up against their employer’s abusive tactics including a refusal to accommodate your disability. Let us help you defend your employee rights and attain a workplace where you are comfortable and able to work.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986