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What are your rights to reasonable accommodations?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabled workers so that they can enjoy equal employment opportunities or perform work-related tasks just like other workers.

This federal law isn’t the only one that entitles disabled workers to reasonable accommodations. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) are state laws that afford disabled workers even superior rights to the ADA. Thus, they are the ones employers in San Diego should follow. 

How do reasonable accommodations differ under these laws?

The ADA only requires employers with 15 or more employees or local or state governments to give employees reasonable accommodations. Workers must have a documentable disability, per ADA guidelines, to qualify for these accommodations.

California’s FEHA requires almost every employer with at least five employees or employs any federal ones to consider a disabled worker’s reasonable accommodations request. How FEHA defines disability is more encompassing than the way the ADA defines it. 

These laws are similar in that they require a worker to specifically request reasonable accommodations. Employers are not required to offer them until an employee makes them aware of their condition and needs.

What reasonable accommodations might you request?

Every situation is different, but here are some examples:

  • The reconfiguration of restroom doors so that they’re accessible to wheelchairs
  • A modified work schedule to include longer breaks
  • Workplace enhancements, such as an ergonomic workstation
  • Written clarification of workplace tasks
  • The installation of a ramp for easier access into the building
  • Having interpreters on call for ease of communication with hearing-impaired employees

Those above are just some of the many reasonable accommodations a disabled worker may request here in California. While state and federal laws allow you to request special accommodations, it’s ultimately up to employers to weigh the feasibility of instituting the different options. 

Employers don’t have to offer reasonable accommodations if they create an undue hardship on the company. You shouldn’t simply let your employer write your requests off without investigating them. If they do, that may constitute actionable discrimination


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