While there may have been a time when if a person had a disability, they were no longer welcome in the workplace, this is no longer an acceptable viewpoint to hold as an employer. As we have learned more about disabilities and people who have disabilities, society has shifted into a more welcoming and accepting climate. Today, people with disabilities are fully included in the workplace as long as he or she is able to adequately perform the job either with or without reasonable disability accommodations.

In fact, approximately 19 percent of American workers have a disability which is recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — a federal law that sets forth requirements for employers and places of public accommodation regarding accessibility and accommodation for disabled individuals, as well as compliance with non-discrimination rules. California law, under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), also requires employers with five or more employees to provide disabled workers with reasonable accommodations.

What is a disability?

A disability is any physical, psychological, or emotional condition or impairment which inhibits one or more areas of a person’s life. Examples of disabilities may include hearing loss or deafness, vision loss or blindness, Down Syndrome, or clinical depression.

What is considered a reasonable request?

When considering what a reasonable accommodation is and is not, it is important to remember that every accommodation for an employee or potential employee — that would allow them to perform their job duties — should be considered reasonable unless making the accommodation would put undue and unnecessary hardship on the employer.

An employer should be able and willing to provide most accommodations, such as:

  • Reserved parking
  • Wheelchair accessibility
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Alter presentation of tests and other training materials

Even changing job responsibilities or transferring the employee to a vacant position better suited to him or her, given his or her disability, is considered a reasonable accommodation.

What disabilities should accommodations be made for?

Employers have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for any and all disabilities recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act, including:

  • AIDS, and its symptoms
  • Alcoholism
  • Asthma
  • Blindness or other visual impairments
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing or speech impairments
  • Heart disease
  • Migraine headaches
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Orthopedic impairments
  • Paralysis
  • Complications from pregnancy
  • Thyroid gland disorders
  • Tuberculosis
  • Loss of body parts

If you have a disability, you should be fully aware of your rights and your employer’s responsibilities under state and federal laws that require and protect disability accommodations in the workplace.

What should I do if my employer refuses to provide me with a reasonable accommodation?

If you have requested a reasonable accommodation at work for your disability and your request was denied by your employer, you should contact an experienced employment attorney right away. You are protected from this type of conduct by federal law, under the ADA, and California state law, under FEHA.

At the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak, we will use our years of experience defending the rights of disabled workers in the San Francisco Bay area to bring justice and quick resolution to your situation. For a consultation of your case, contact us today at (415) 693-0300.