Reasonable Accommodations

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees and applicants for employment to enable them to perform the essential functions of their positions. If the employer knows its employee has a disability, it is required to provide the accommodation even if the employee does not request it.

Reasonable accommodations can include making facilities accessible to and usable by disabled individuals, job restructuring, offering part time or modified work schedules, reassigning to a vacant position, acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies, providing qualified readers or interpreters, reassignment to a vacant position, paid or unpaid leave of absences, alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs, and other similar accommodations. Courts in California look to cases decided under the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act to to determine whether other accommodations may be reasonable.

The California Supreme Court has determined that employers may decline employment to applicants who use marijuana for medical purposes (see Compassionate Use Act of 1996).

If an employee seeks an accommodation from his employer, they must engage in a timely, good-faith "interactive process" to select an appropriate accommodation. The employer has the ultimate discretion to choose between effective accommodations, and may choose the less expensive accommodation or the one which is easier for it to provide.

An employer may defend against a "failure to accommodate" claim with proof that the accommodation is an undue hardship on the employer, the accommodation sought is unreasonable.

For a free consultation about disability discrimination at work with an experienced employee rights attorney, contact David Spivak:

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