Failure to Accommodate a Disability

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As a worker with a disability, certain aspects of the job application process or workplace may be difficult to navigate. Whether you have a physical or mental disability, you may need to seek a reasonable accommodation for your disability in the workplace. A California employer’s failure to accommodate a disability may be actionable. You should consult the Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyers at the Kokozian Law Firm about whether you have a viable claim.

Failure to Accommodate a Disability

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is a strong anti-discrimination law that prohibits disability discrimination in a workplace in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California. Among other things, FEHA requires employers to provide job applicants and employees with reasonable accommodations if they have a disability or a medical condition that renders them unable to perform essential job functions. A reasonable accommodation must be provided, unless an employer can show that providing the accommodation would present an undue hardship.

To lawfully deny you an accommodation due to an undue hardship, an employer must be able to establish that the accommodation would present a significant expense or difficulty in terms of certain factors. These factors include the cost and nature of the accommodation sought, your employer’s overall finances, the size of the business, and the kind of operations underway.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any arrangement or measure that would permit you, as a job applicant or employee who has a disability, to perform essential job functions. A reasonable accommodation could include providing necessary equipment, restructuring the job, allowing for additional or more frequent breaks, modifying a work schedule, or making the facilities accessible. For example, if you are blind, a reasonable accommodation might involve providing you with a computer screen reader to perform the job’s essential functions. For another example, if you have cancer, your employer might reasonably accommodate you by shifting your schedule to permit you to receive your chemotherapy treatments and providing more frequent breaks.

Good-Faith Interactive Process

Your employer should engage with you in a timely, good-faith interactive process to figure out which accommodation would be effective to address your disability. The good-faith interactive process is an informal process in which an employer is supposed to take time to develop potential solutions that would allow an employee to continue working.

The first step in this process is to figure out what the essential functions of the job are. Factors that may be considered when deciding which job functions are essential include whether there are a limited number of employees available to whom a task can be distributed, whether the job exists to perform that task, and whether the task is highly specialized. The employer’s judgment will play a role in determining which job functions are essential. After the essential tasks are determined, the employer should talk with you to figure out what a reasonable accommodation for the disability or medical condition would be.

Damages

To recover damages for an employer’s failure to accommodate a disability in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, you will need to show that you have a covered disability, you can perform the essential job functions, and your employer failed to reasonably accommodate you. If you can establish liability for your employer’s failure to reasonably accommodate you, you may be able to recover back pay, front pay, and emotional distress damages. If the employer’s conduct was egregious, it may be appropriate to pursue punitive damages. Equitable relief, such as reinstatement, also may be appropriate.

Retaliation

Under FEHA, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for requesting a reasonable accommodation. You may have a claim regardless of whether your employer provided the accommodation. The central question is whether your employer took an adverse action against you in response to your requesting a reasonable accommodation. For example, if your employer fails to accommodate you and terminates you for requesting the accommodation, a court is likely to view this as retaliation. Other potentially retaliatory actions can include a demotion, limiting your advancement prospects, or making another negative decision about the terms, conditions, and privileges of your employment due to your request for an accommodation.

Consult the Top Disability Discrimination Attorney

Your employer should provide a reasonable accommodation for your disability unless it would present an undue hardship to do so. If you believe that your employer’s failure to accommodate your disability has harmed you, you should talk to a disability discrimination lawyer about your situation. At the Kokozian Law Firm, our attorneys represent employees throughout California and the greater Los Angeles region. Call us at 323.857.5900 or contact us via our online form.