You probably do have a right to be accommodated.
You have no injury so this is not a Workers' Compensation question.
You really do NOT want to spend several thousand dollars to file suit with no injuries.
Discuss the matter with an employment attorney.
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Since you describe being in pain, you may have a work related injury. You may want to file a workers' comp claim. As part of the medical care, you may be able to get an ergo desk if the treating physician prescribes it.
If your work is causing you pain, you probably have a workers’ compensation claim. You may also have a right for reasonable accommodations, i.e. an ergonomic work station, under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
When you told your employer that you were in pain due to your work station, they should have offered you a DWC-1 claim form so you could get checked out by a doctor. When you asked them for an ergonomic work station they probably should have offered you an “interactive meeting” to discuss whether or not they could accommodate you (this depends on whether or not you meet the definition of disabled, which you probably do). Since your employer is not playing nice with you, I suggest you seek the advice of a reputable attorney. There should be no out-of-pocket expense to “hire” an attorney.
There is an attorney here on Avvo out of the Bay area named Brett Borah. He often provides good answers here on Avvo. You can also check the California Applicant Attorney Association website and try to find an attorney that handles both workers’ compensation and employment discrimination law (FEHA/ADA).
Good luck to you.
Whether or not you file a workers comp claim now, you should go see your doctor about this. Ask your doctor to write a note saying that you have work restrictions due to the pain that your work station is creating for you, and that your employer needs to arrange for an ergonomic evaluation and adjustment of your work station to prevent injury. This sort of thing definitely qualifies as a "reasonable accomodation" within the meaning of the ADA and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. If they don't correct it, and it results in further injury to you, you will probably have a viable serious and willful misconduct claim, in addition to a workers compensation claim.
Given that you work for a large hospital, I am guessing that you are a member of a union. Talk to your union about pursuing this matter for you.
If your condition qualifies as a disability under FEHA (it "impairs a major life function"), you have the right to reasonable accommodations. If your employer is unwilling to provide such accommodations, that would constitute a violation of the Act. Your recourse would be to file a complaint with the DFEH. Good luck.
This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.
This is a worker’s comp. case, not a personal injury lawsuit.
DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
Contact an attorney familiar with Americans with Disabilities Act.
My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none.