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Is it discrimination if reasonable accommodation is not given?

In today's California workplace, it is expected that employers will be ready and willing to hire people who are disabled and to make the necessary changes to the workplace to allow people who are disabled to work. However, the law - known as reasonable accommodation - is not always followed. Those who are disabled in any way, mentally or physically, and have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace when applying for a job or when already working at a job have the right to consider a legal filing to be compensated.

According to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, a workplace that has five or more employees is required to provide reasonable accommodation to disabled workers or prospective workers. This should be done so the person can perform the essential needs for the job. The only reason for which an employer can fail to adhere to providing reasonable accommodation is if it causes an undue hardship.

There are several aspects to reasonable accommodation. It can include: changing the duties of the worker; giving the worker leave to receive medical treatment; altering the work schedule; relocating the area at which the disabled worker works; and allowing mechanical or electrical assistance to the worker. There are separate rights for disabled workers to get unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act or the California Family Rights Act.

An employer must take part in an interactive process with employees or prospective employees who ask for reasonable accommodations due to a disability. If the employer becomes aware of the needs for reasonable accommodation even if the employee did not request it, the interactive process must still take place no matter how the employer became aware of it. The goal is to let workers who can otherwise do the job but for their disability stopping them to have all that is reasonably necessary to do it.

Some employers might balk at the idea of having a disabled worker and making the reasonable accommodations. There are times when they might find a reason to dismiss a worker or eliminate the job due to the desire not to provide reasonable accommodation. A person who has experienced this level of discrimination should discuss a lawsuit with a legal professional.

Source: dfeh.ca.gov, "Reasonable Accommodation," accessed on Sept. 18, 2017

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