If you have a disability or serious medical condition, the law provides you protection in the workplace. In such a situation, your employer is responsible for making reasonable accommodations that enable you to perform your duties. The only time your employer may be unable to make such accommodations is if doing so would cause them undue hardship.
The law defines disability as a condition that limits a major life function, such as working. Therefore, California employers are not obligated to accommodate every single known medical condition or disability. The law has very specific definitions of what it considers disabilities. There are two basic categories of disabilities that the law requires an employer to offer reasonable accommodation for. These include:
The term ‘physical disability’ refers to any condition that has led to an anatomical loss or interfered with one or more of an individual’s major body functions. Examples of these conditions include arthritis, chronic migraines, diabetes, epilepsy, and hypertension.
On the other hand, ‘mental disabilities’ include intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and specific learning disorders. Examples of conditions under this category include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders, et cetera.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act have established laws that require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for their employees.
Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:
Physical disabilities can be more straightforward at times, and the employer should have a better understanding of what accommodations might be requested or required in that circumstance. In these situations, they may make reasonable accommodations without necessarily receiving a request from the employee.
However, not all disabilities are obvious or visible to your employer. Sometimes, mental disabilities or impairments can be the most difficult to discuss with your employer, especially due to the stigma that society can attach to these conditions. You should do your best to ask for an accommodation in writing or orally if you feel that your employer is unaware of your disability or has not done anything reasonable to accommodate your condition.
Your employer should engage in an interactive process immediately after you request accommodation. During the meeting, they might request you or your medical provider to list reasonable accommodations that could improve your working conditions.
If you need help navigating the interactive process or you have evidence that your employer failed to provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace, take action today by contacting Melody Rissell Leonard, a reputable and respected labor and employment lawyer practicing in California and Nevada. Melody may be able to help represent you and help you hold the employer accountable for their actions, or inactions. schedule a complimentary and confidential case review.
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