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Reasonable accommodations and undue hardships

Being disabled does not mean you cannot hold down a job. Many disabled employees are gainfully employed and are valuable workers. Sometimes a disabled employee needs some accommodations to perform their job duties. California law recognizes this need and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would impose an undue hardship.

Reasonable accommodation

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers with five or more workers are responsible for providing reasonable accommodations to workers who have physical or mental disabilities, so these workers can complete their essential job functions. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Altering job duties
  • Providing sick leave
  • Allowing work schedules, and
  • Providing mechanical or electrical aids

There must be an “interactive process” through which an employee can request a reasonable accommodation. The employer must offer this process once they know the employee needs an accommodation. The interactive process must be processed in a timely manner and in good faith.

Undue hardship

Employers do not need to provide a reasonable accommodation if doing so would impose an undue hardship on them. Whether something is an undue hardship depends on the size of the employer and the cost of the accommodation being requested.

Disabled workers can benefit employees

Disabled workers often have a lot of skills and knowledge they could bring to the workplace. It benefits employees and employers to make reasonable accommodations that their disabled employees need, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. If this is the case, it helps to be creative and explore other accommodations that will allow disabled employees to do their jobs without imposing an undue hardship on their employer.