Employees with disabilities have certain rights in California. A disability is a physical or mental condition that limits a major life activity. Working is a major life activity.
If an employee has a disability that affects their ability to do their job, or they are perceived to have such a disability, under most circumstances the employee is entitled to a “reasonable accommodation,” if that is possible.
A “reasonable accommodation” is when the employer makes a special allowance for the employee, so they can do their job. Examples of a reasonable accommodation include:
- medical leave so the employee can recover and return to work
- shorter shifts, or shifts with extra breaks
- no night shifts
- allowing an employee to sit or stand
- changing the employee’s job duties (as long as the employee can still complete the most important part of their job)
It is not always easy to find a reasonable accommodation that meets the employee’s needs, allows the employee to complete their most important job duties for the employer’s benefit, and does not impose unreasonable costs on the employer. Sometimes, it is not possible to find a reasonable accommodation. The employer is required to engage in the “interactive process” in “good faith” to see if it is possible. Once the employee tells the employer they have a disability, the employer must propose solutions. And if those solutions are not workable, the employee needs to say so. It is called the “interactive process” because both sides are required to have an ongoing discussion–they are required to interact with each other–to look for a solution.
If an employee has a disability that does not affect their ability to do their job, it is generally unlawful to discriminate against them.
California also protects employees from harassment based on their disability (or perceived disability). Harassment is cruel behavior by a supervisor or coworker.
If you have a disability and have questions about your rights, I recommend that you talk to an experienced disability lawyer today for a free consultation. An attorney can assist you with asking for a reasonable accommodation, so you can try to protect your job.