Living with a disability comes with challenges; however, it does not take away a person's desire or need to work for a living. In fact, both national and state laws provide persons with qualifying physical or mental disabilities with legal safeguards against discrimination. In addition, disabled persons are also entitled to access and accommodations.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers with at least five employees are legally obligated to provide "reasonable accommodation" to employees with a physical or mental disability. These accommodations should be designed to allow the disabled person to perform their essential job functions. However, a limitation to this accommodation is if it creates an "undue hardship" for the employer.
Some of the numerous accommodations that have been deemed reasonable include: (1) changing a disabled employee's work schedule; (2) changing the employee's job responsibilities; (3) relocating the employee in accordance with their disability; (4) providing medical leave; and (5) providing specialized equipment to allow the employee to perform their job functions. This is not a comprehensive list, but is one to keep in mind as there is precedent that undercut an employer's argument that these would present them with undue hardship.
Employers have a duty to engage an employee in an "interactive process" when the employer becomes aware of an employee's possible disability and need for accommodation. However, do not count on an employer to do this. Instead, if you need an accommodation to fulfill your essential job functions, make a request.
To do so, you are not required to make the request in writing or to submit any specific form. However, using a form is a good idea. This is because it allows you to take the time to make a thorough, complete request that details your disability, how your disability limits your ability to work, and the accommodation you are requesting. As an added benefit, having a copy of your request in writing leaves no ambiguity as to what you presented to your employer.
Once you have made your request, your employer is obligated to act in a timely manner to engage you in the interactive process. Further, an employer is required by law to act in good faith when it comes to this evaluating your need for reasonable accommodation.
Protect Your Legal Rights
If you have a mental or physical disability and have been denied a reasonable accommodation, you may be entitled to relief. You have legal rights and we want to make sure that your employer is held to task. The attorneys at Moss Bollinger have spent years standing up to employers to protect the legal rights of employees. Contact us today and we can help determine whether you have a legal claim. We work on a contingency basis and collect nothing up front. Call Moss Bollinger at 800-249-1175 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.