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What Accommodations Must My Employer Provide for My Disability?

The Guha Law Firm Feb. 27, 2024

If you meet the criteria for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer is required to make reasonable modifications or adjustments to enable you to perform your job duties effectively. 

These accommodations can take many forms. Some include:  

  • Providing or modifying equipment or devices 

  • Job restructuring 

  • Part-time or modified work schedules 

  • Reassignment to a vacant position 

  • Adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies 

  • Providing readers and interpreters 

  • Making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities

In California, we're fortunate to have protections for individuals with disabilities, both at the state and federal levels. As a law firm, we're here to help you understand these rights and ensure they are upheld. Our team can break down ADA requirements and eligibility and some unreasonable accommodations to help you stay informed.  

Reasonable vs. Unreasonable Accommodations 

Distinguishing between reasonable and unreasonable accommodations is pivotal. Reasonable accommodations are those that enable you to perform your job duties without imposing undue hardship on your employer. What's considered reasonable will vary on a case-by-case basis, depending on the nature of your disability and the job requirements. 

Employers might also adjust or modify policies, training materials, or examinations, or provide readers, interpreters, or other assistance. They're also required to make the workplace accessible and usable for individuals with disabilities.

On the other hand, unreasonable accommodations are those that would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. While employers are encouraged to explore all possible options, they aren't required to provide accommodations that would impose undue hardship. Examples of unreasonable accommodations might include:

  • Requiring the employee to pay for the accommodation 

  • Lowering the employee's salary or paying them less than other employees 

  • Refusing to make non-work areas accessible to people with disabilities 

  • Refusing to hire a qualified applicant with a disability over other applicants without a disability based solely on their disability 

  • Refusing to hire an individual due to a perceived safety risk without considering reasonable accommodations 

  • Offering a health insurance policy that excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions 

Here at The Guha Law Firm, we're committed to helping our clients understand their rights and these complex legal processes. If you have questions or need assistance, don't hesitate to reach out. We're here to help. 

Qualifying for ADA Accommodations 

Firstly, it's important to understand who qualifies for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, you're eligible.  

This also applies if you have a record of such an impairment, or if your employer regards you as having such an impairment.

Major life activities include: 

  • walking,  

  • seeing,  

  • hearing, 

  • speaking; and, 

  • performing manual tasks.

The ADA is a federal law, but remember, in California, our definitions and protections can be broader than protections under federal law. This is due to state laws like the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the Disabled Persons Act. 

California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) 

FEHA is a state law that provides comprehensive protections against employment discrimination. It covers a variety of protected characteristics, including disability. The act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations so that people with disabilities can effectively perform their job duties.

Also, it provides broader protections against employment discrimination than those offered under federal law. In essence, the FEHA ensures that everyone has equal opportunities in the workplace, regardless of their disability status. 

Unruh Civil Rights Act 

The Unruh Civil Rights Act is another crucial piece of legislation in California. This law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on various protected characteristics, including disability.

It applies to all businesses that provide goods, services, or accommodations to the public. Simply put, this act ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to public establishments and services. 

Disabled Persons Act 

Finally, we have the Disabled Persons Act. This law aims to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities and ensure equal access to public facilities and services. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in various areas, including employment, housing, and government services. The law mandates that reasonable accommodations be provided to individuals with disabilities to guarantee equal access and opportunities. 

Employer ADA Requirements 

Employers with 15 or more employees must comply with ADA accommodations. They can't discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in any aspect of employment, from recruitment to termination. They can't require medical examinations or ask disability-related questions unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. 

Employers also have a duty to engage in an interactive process with employees to determine appropriate accommodations. This involves open communication between you and your employer to identify your specific needs and explore potential accommodations. 

Strong Legal Representation  

At The Guha Law Firm, located in the heart of Orange, California, we're dedicated to assisting individuals facing discrimination in various forms. We understand the fear and anxiety that often accompanies these circumstances, and we're committed to providing you with the strong legal advocacy you need. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation.