Both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) require employers to provide reasonable accommodations when faced with a qualified employee or job applicant who is disabled. The exception is for accommodations that would impose an undue hardship on the employer. In most cases, FEHA provides a greater scope of protection to employees. If you are denied a reasonable accommodation or discriminated against for taking a reasonable accommodation, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit for damages. Our Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyers are experienced in investigating and litigating disability discrimination cases and will put our knowledge to work to see that you get the compensation and justice you deserve.Employers Must Provide Reasonable Accommodations
The ADA requires employers that have 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled but qualified workers. FEHA applies to almost all employers with five or more employees in California. Under FEHA, an employer cannot retaliate against you for asking for a reasonable accommodation or taking one. Generally, a reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the work environment, providing a disabled employee time to recuperate from an injury and/or medical condition or the customs of the employer or the job so that another otherwise qualified individual who has a disability is able to have equal opportunities to nondisabled workers in the workplace. For example, a reasonable accommodation could be allowing an employee a flexible work schedule so that she can see the doctor or work fewer hours on days where there is a flare-up of a medical condition. For another example, it might include providing Braille materials or restructuring a job to eliminate nonessential job functions.
An employer is entitled to deny a reasonable accommodation if it would pose an undue hardship. An employer who relies on an undue hardship defense has the burden of proof, which is a difficult burden to satisfy and is required to provide evidence in support of its defense. However, what counts as an undue hardship varies depending on different factors including the size of the employer, the nature of the operations, and the cost of the accommodation. For example, it might be a relatively minor cost for a multinational corporate employer to provide materials in Braille to a qualified but blind project manager. However, the same accommodation might be tremendously expensive for a much smaller employer.
If you need an accommodation, you should notify your employer that you are disabled and that you require an unpaid medical leave of absence to recuperate from your injury – either work-related injury or any injury, undergo surgery or treatment; or that your disability interferes with your ability to do your job, and propose an accommodation. You can provide this notification orally, but it’s wiser to put the request in writing. Your employer is allowed to ask for reasonable supporting documentation where the need for the accommodation isn’t clear. For example, if you have fibromyalgia, it may not be as clear you have a disability as if you are in a wheelchair. The documentation, such as a doctor’s note, must be sufficient to show you have a disability covered by either the ADA or FEHA.
The employer should engage in an interactive good-faith process with you to determine what accommodation might work. While the precise accommodation you request may not be possible, the employer may be able to provide a different accommodation that fulfills the same need. Failing to engage in a timely good-faith interactive process or failing to give reasonable accommodation can be the basis for bringing a disability discrimination lawsuit.
In 2016, a California appellate court decision determined that the duty to provide a reasonable accommodation under FEHA is more expansive than previously recognized. Employers must also provide accommodations to employees that are associated with disabled people, such as, instances when an employee has a child who is autistic and requires time off to take his/her child to the doctor, etc. While the ADA only requires reasonable accommodations for employees or job applicants who are disabled, under the court’s ruling FEHA requires reasonable accommodations also to those that need reasonable accommodations in connection with a family member who has a disability.Consult a Disability Discrimination Attorney in Los Angeles
If you’ve suffered harm in a Los Angeles workplace due to your employer’s denial of your request for reasonable accommodation or decision to treat you differently for using a reasonable accommodation, The Nourmand Law Firm, APC, may be able to help you file a lawsuit to recover your damages. Our Los Angeles discrimination attorneys strive to provide aggressive legal representation to workers who have been harmed in San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Palm Springs, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, Van Nuys, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties. Call us at 323-895-7800 or contact us through our online form. We also handle other types of employment discrimination matters, including wrongful termination, sexual harassment and retaliation.