Disability Discrimination & Failure to Accommodate

San Mateo Disability Discrimination and Employment Law Attorneys

In California, disabled workers are protected by both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under both the ADA and FEHA, there are two major categories of disability discrimination:

  • Denying someone a job benefit because of a disability
  • Failing to accommodate someone who has a disability

Failure to accommodate is arguably the most common kind of disability discrimination claim. Under both the ADA and FEHA, employers are required to take reasonable steps to accommodate disabilities that employees tell them about, as well as disabilities (or potential disabilities) that they suspect. So if an employer finds out from another source that an employee has AIDS, it is still required to reasonably accommodate the employee's condition (it cannot avoid this responsibility simply because the employee never revealed the condition him/herself). Employers are also required to engage in an interactive process with employees to at least try to accommodate their disabilities, even if a viable accommodation is not ultimately devised. This means that employers cannot dismiss accommodation requests offhand (as many often do), citing anticipated costs and/or administrative difficulties; rather, they must at least investigate the requested accommodations and work, in good faith, toward devising reasonable accommodations that will allow employees to continue working.

Example:
As the result of a back injury, a warehouse employee temporarily cannot lift more than 20 pounds. The employee requests this accommodation from his employer, but because lifting is a regular part of the employee's job, the employer immediately dismisses the requested accommodation, without ever researching whether it would be feasible, and/or without ever suggesting any alternatives. The employer may be liable for failing to reasonably accommodate the employee because it failed to engage in a good faith interactive process to devise a mutually feasible disability accommodation.

Free Consultation With a Bay Area Employment Lawyer

If you think you are a victim of disability discrimination, I offer a free case evaluation by telephone. Call 415-689-6590 (866-290-0424 toll free) or contact me, a San Francisco age employment lawyer, online to talk about your case.