Serving Employees And Employers

What Is A Reasonable Disability Accommodation?

Last updated on February 22, 2021

Both state and federal law protect employees and prospective hires who, though qualified, willing and able to work, are confounded with either physical or mental impairments that make the accomplishment of certain work duties and responsibilities difficult. Employers may not discriminate against these individuals or persons who are regarded as having a disability. Employers are also required to work together with disabled employees to determine how best to accommodate their disabilities to the extent reasonably possible.

The DeVito Law Group receives many inquiries about legislation and what it means for our clients. Read on to learn about some of our most frequently asked questions.

Are all employees who are disabled protected under the law?

No. Both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) do not prohibit employers from refusing to hire or discharging an employee with a physical or mental disability who is unable to perform the “essential duties” (as opposed to marginal duties associated with the employee’s position) of his or her job even with some reasonable accommodation, or who cannot perform those duties in a manner that would not endanger the employee’s health or safety or the health and safety of others even with reasonable accommodations.

What are the duties of an employer in regard to disabled employees or applicants?

In California, employers have an affirmative duty to make reasonable accommodation for the known disabilities of applicants and employees to enable them to perform the essential functions of the employee’s position unless doing so will impose or result in undue hardship to the employer’s business operations. The duty arises where the employer is aware of the disability even if the employee does not ask for an accommodation.

Additionally, the employer must engage in a “timely, good faith interactive process” in response to an applicant’s or employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation for the purpose of deciding on an appropriate accommodation. An employer must initiate the process in situations where the disability is known or apparent to the employer.

What types of accommodations are considered reasonable under the law?

The answer depends on the individual’s needs and limitations. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Job restructuring
  • Modification of work schedules such as allowing a later start time or switching the employee from a full-time to part-time schedule
  • Reassignment to a vacant position
  • Supplying appropriate equipment or devices to meet the employee’s needs like computer software, keyboard or monitor
  • Extending a leave of absence to allow the employee to recuperate

Although the employee’s requested accommodation should be given deference, the employer ultimately has the discretion to choose between accommodations.

Speak With Us Today

Whether you need guidance on how to handle an employee’s request for an accommodation or you feel you have been discriminated against because of your disability, contact the experts at the DeVito Law Group to schedule an appointment to discuss your employment disability issues.