What Is A Reasonable Accommodation?
You may have heard the term “reasonable accommodations” used in the workplace, but what are they, and what makes an accommodation reasonable? Having a clear understanding of these topics can help ensure that you get the support you need to perform your job.
What are Reasonable Accommodations?
Reasonable accommodations are measures taken to make jobs equally accessible to people who are otherwise qualified to perform them. In other words, a qualified candidate’s disability should not be an excuse to fire or resist hiring them, particularly when something can be done so that they are able to perform the job. Reasonable accommodations can include things like adjusting job duties, providing time off for medical care or treatment, flexible or adjusted work schedules, allowing an employee to work remotely or from another area or location, and providing special equipment or mechanical aids.
Reasonable Accommodations in Practice
For instance, if a computer programmer requires a wheelchair and applies for a job at a company located on the sixth floor of a building with no elevator and meets the qualifications for the job, their inability to access the office space due to their disability should not be a reason to disqualify them for the position if there are any reasonable accommodations that could be made in order to allow them to perform the job duties successfully. While it may be unreasonable to expect the office to move to a more accessible location (although that would be a good idea) or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars installing a staircase, it would be reasonable to accommodate this employee by allowing them to work remotely. Even if the office generally has a policy prohibiting working from home, it would be reasonable to make an exception to accommodate this employee, as the whole office benefits from their work product.
The inquiry is focused on what measures could be taken that would allow this qualified employee to perform the tasks the company requires. This could mean providing a standing desk for an employee with degenerative disk disease, allowing an employee who requires blood transfusions to have a schedule that accommodates their appointment times, or getting software that reads text for visually impaired employees.
Do All Employers in California Have to Offer Reasonable Accommodations?
In California, employers with five or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations for employees with physical or mental disabilities that are necessary for them to perform essential job functions and would not cause the employer undue hardship. If an employee requests reasonable accommodations or if the employer becomes aware of a possible need for reasonable accommodations, the employer is required to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process with the employee to determine what is needed and what can be done. This process requires assessing the job functions as well as the employee’s individual needs and limitations.
Talk to an Employment Lawyer
If you’ve been denied reasonable accommodations by your California employer, talk to the experienced San Jose employment lawyers at Costanzo Law Firm and find out what rights you have available and how to enforce them. Call today to schedule a personalized consultation.