Understanding Reasonable Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities Under ADA and FEHA
Posted on June 30, 2023
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) are two of the most critical pieces of legislation that protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The ADA is a federal law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in employment. At the same time, FEHA is a state law that protects employees from discrimination based on disability or medical condition. Both laws require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. For more information on how to remain compliant with California regulations, contact one of the top human resources consulting firms in the state.
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. It can include changes to job duties, equipment, or other aspects of the work environment. Examples of reasonable accommodations include providing assistive technology, modifying physical spaces, making changes to policies or procedures, providing additional training or support, and offering flexible scheduling options.
Under both ADA and FEHA, employers must provide reasonable accommodations unless they can show that doing so would cause undue hardship. Undue hardship means significant difficulty or expense for an employer when considering factors such as size, financial resources, and the nature of the business. Employers must also consider whether an accommodation would fundamentally alter the nature of their business operations.
“Reasonable accommodations” refers to changes or adjustments made by employers, landlords, or service providers to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), reasonable accommodations are required to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to employment opportunities, housing, and services. Examples of reasonable accommodations may include making physical modifications to a workplace or residence, providing interpreters or assistive technology, modifying work schedules, or adjusting job duties. The specific accommodation needed will vary based on the individual’s disability and the circumstances of the situation.
When determining whether an accommodation is reasonable under ADA and FEHA, employers should consider several factors, including:
- The nature and cost of the accommodation
- The impact on employee morale
- Whether there are alternative accommodations available
- Whether it would create safety risks
- Whether it would interfere with other employees’ rights
- Whether it would be disruptive to business operations
Contact eqHR Solutions for a consultation with one of the top human resources consulting firms in California.
Mandatory Job Duties and Essential Job Functions
Mandatory job duties and essential job functions refer to the core tasks that are required for an employee to perform their role successfully. These duties and functions should be clearly defined in the physical requirements in the job description so that the employer and employees understand their expectations. Essential job functions are those tasks necessary to the position, while mandatory jobs mandatory job duties, and essential job functions determine what kind of reasonable accommodation may be necessary for a disabled employee. Essential job functions are those tasks that are fundamental to performing a particular job – they cannot be eliminated without changing what the job requires or how it is performed.
Employers should also consider whether an accommodation would fundamentally alter the nature of their business operations. Finally, employers must provide reasonable accommodations unless they can show that doing so would cause undue hardship. Undue hardship means significant difficulty or expense for an employer when considering factors such as size, financial resources, and the nature of the business.
It is important to note that employers are not required to provide accommodations. However, they must make a good-faith effort to engage in an interactive process with the employee to identify and explore potential accommodations.
Employers should also consider reasonable accommodations even if the employee does not request them or when an employee does not have a disability that is recognized under ADA and FEHA. By doing so, employers can ensure that their workplace is accessible to all individuals.
Human Resources Consulting Firms Help with Compliance
An HR consulting firm can be a valuable resource for ensuring compliance with California’s reasonable accommodations regulations. With the ever-changing landscape of employment laws and regulations, it can be challenging for businesses to stay up-to-date and navigate the complexities of compliance effectively.
eqHR Solutions can help your business proactively review your accommodation processes, establish clear guidelines and implement best practices that align with California’s regulations.
Contact us for a consultation.