When California Businesses Fail to Provide Reasonable Accommodations
Ever since California passed its first law protecting the rights of workers with disabilities in 1974, it has been at the forefront of the Americans with Disabilities movement.
What is Considered a Disability?Under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), employers are required to:
1. Provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees who, because of their disability, are unable to perform essential job functions; and
2. Engage in a timely interactive process with applicants or employees in need of reasonable accommodation.
If a California employee is denied these rights, they are entitled to bring a discrimination claim against their employer.
At Garcia & Gurney, ALC, we work to ensure that your business is in compliance with California's employment laws, including those under FEHA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To ensure that you do everything by the book, consult with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at our Pleasanton law firm today.
Under FEHA, there are two categories of disability: mental disability and physical disability. Additionally, while not recognized as a disability per se, an employee with a "medical condition" is entitled to reasonable accommodations just as an employee with a recognized disability is.
1. A physical disability is defined as a physiological disease, disorder, condition, disfigurement, or anatomical loss that affects one or more of the bodily systems or functions, and that inhibits an individual's ability to perform a major life activity, such as working.
2. A mental disability is defined as any mental or psychological disorder or condition, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities that inhibits an individual's ability to perform a major life activity, such as working.
Medical conditions protected under FEHA include any health condition that is related to or associated with a diagnosis of cancer or a genetic characteristic. Addictions, such as a drug and/or alcohol addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, kleptomania, pyromania, etc. are not covered by FEHA.
(Disability Under the Fair Employment & Housing Act)
Legal Remedies for when an Employer Fails to Provide Reasonable AccommodationsWhen a California employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations to those employees that require it, they will not only be ordered to cease and desist their discriminatory practices, but also, they will be responsible for covering the damages and losses experienced by the employee due to the lack of accommodations, including but not limited to lost wages, damages for emotional distress, and administrative fines of not more than $150,000.
If a California employee is denied reasonable accommodations in the workplace, they are first required to make a good faith effort to achieve a resolution without legal intervention. This includes speaking with the employer as soon as accommodations are either denied or once it becomes clear that they will not be provided. After all, the failure to accommodate could be a result of a lack of communication between employer and employee. However, if the lack of accommodations was no accident, and if the employer continues to refuse to provide reasonable accommodations, the employee is required to take the matter to the next level, which would be the employer's reasonable accommodations coordinator or human resources. If the company and the employee still fail to comply with FEHA's and the ADA's rules regarding the matter, the employee can file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.