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Can I Sue My Employer for Not Accommodating My Disability?

Yes, employees in California can potentially sue their employers for failing to provide reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. Both state and federal laws protect employees from disability discrimination, including an employer's failure to make appropriate accommodations.

Disability Discrimination Laws

The primary laws that prohibit disability discrimination in the workplace are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). These laws require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship.

What Disabilities Are Protected?

The ADA and FEHA protect individuals with physical and mental disabilities, as well as those perceived to have a disability.

Physical Disabilities

Physical disabilities can include conditions that impair or limit major life activities, such as walking, seeing, hearing, or breathing. Examples include paralysis, blindness, deafness, and mobility impairments.

Mental Disabilities

Mental disabilities can encompass various conditions that affect cognitive abilities, such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.

Perceived Disability

Even if an individual does not have an actual disability, they may be protected under disability discrimination laws if their employer perceives them as having a disability.

What Is Considered a Reasonable Accommodation in California?

A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job, employment practice, or work environment that allows an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include:

- Providing assistive technology or equipment

- Modifying work schedules or allowing telework

- Reassigning job duties or providing a job coach

- Making existing facilities accessible

Does My Employer Have to Provide Reasonable Accommodations?

Yes, employers in California are required to engage in an interactive process with employees who request accommodations for their disabilities. The employer must make reasonable efforts to identify and provide appropriate accommodations, unless doing so would cause undue hardship.

Can an Employer in California Refuse to Hire Someone With a Disability?

No, employers cannot refuse to hire qualified individuals with disabilities solely because of their disability. They must consider reasonable accommodations that would enable the individual to perform the essential functions of the job.

What to Do if You Are Fired Because of Your Disability?

If you believe you have been terminated or disciplined because of your disability, you should document the circumstances and any requests for accommodation you made to your employer. You may then consider filing a discrimination charge with the appropriate state or federal agency.

Filing a Discrimination Charge

In California, you can file a discrimination charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies will investigate your claim and may pursue legal action against your employer on your behalf.

Failure to Accommodate FAQs

What Is Not Considered a Reasonable Accommodation?

Accommodations that would cause an undue hardship for the employer, such as significant difficulty or expense, are not considered reasonable.

What Is an Example of Failure to Accommodate?

An example of failure to accommodate would be an employer refusing to provide an employee with a disability with a chair or stool to sit on during their shift, despite the employee's request for this accommodation.

Can I Sue My Employer for Failing to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation?

Yes, if your employer fails to engage in the interactive process or provide reasonable accommodations for your disability, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them for disability discrimination and failure to accommodate.

If you have experienced disability discrimination or your employer has failed to provide reasonable accommodations, it's crucial to seek legal assistance. The experienced employment law attorneys at Nevels + Nichols in San Diego can help protect your rights and ensure that you receive the accommodations you need. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your case.



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