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What is Reasonable Accommodation in California?

Reasonable Accommodation in California

What is reasonable accommodation in California according to the Federal Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)?

According to the FFEHA, employers who have five or more employees are required to provide reasonable accommodation in California for individuals with a mental or physical disability to perform essential functions of their jobs, unless it would cause an undue hardship.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodation in California

Reasonable accommodation in the workplace can include, but is not limited to:

  • Making changes in a person’s work hours and schedule
  • Leave of Absence
  • Adapting a person’s workplace to allow for hearing, vision, or mobility restrictions
  • Relocating the work area
  • Purchasing new equipment which will better suit the person
  • Allowing the person to parking reserved parking spots

What Is Undue Hardship?

According to California Government Code Section 12926 (u), an undue hardship is defined as an action requiring “significant difficulty or expense.” To determine whether an undue hardship exists or no the courts use the following factors:

  • The cost and the nature of the accommodation needed
  • The total financial resources of the facilities involved in providing the reasonable accommodations
  • The overall resources of the entity
  • The total size of the company and the number of employees
  • The type and location of the covered entity’s facilities.
  • The type of operations of the employer entity

When the applicant or employee requests reasonable accommodations the employer is required to initiate an interactive process. According to California law, it is illegal for an employer to fail to involve in a timely and good faith interactive process. The main aim of this process is to remove barriers which keep people with disabilities from performing jobs that they could perform with some form of accommodation.

How to Prove the Claim of Failure to Accommodate a Disability?

The parson must be able to establish the following elements to prove the claim of failure to accommodate a disability:

  • A person has a disability recognized by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
  • A person is fully qualified and able to perform the essential functions of the position with a reasonable accommodation.

For purposes of this claim, a person doesn’t have to establish that he/she suffered an adverse employment action as a consequence of his/her disability. According to the California FEHA, an employer’s failure to reasonably accommodate a person is a violation of the statute.

What Can a Person Recover in an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit for Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodation?

Damages depend on the level of the discrimination and the type of harm to the employee and can include monetary damages, equitable remedies and punitive damages

Money damages include:

  • Back pay and front pay
  • Higher income from a promotion and a raise
  • Pension benefits
  • Bonus payments
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

Call our experienced lawyers at KAASS Law at (310) 943-1171 for questions about disability discrimination laws and reasonable accommodations, or to discuss your case confidentially.

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