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What constitutes reasonable accommodation?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or “ADA”, prevents employers from being able to discriminate against you based on your disability when you apply for a job. They must also provide you with reasonable accommodations that allow you to work productively and perform your job duties.

The ADA National Network advises that, in order to qualify as a disabled person under ADA rules and guidelines, your disability must be “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (sometimes referred to in the regulations as an “actual disability”).”

Reasonable accommodation under the ADA

Since the enactment of the ADA in 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court has heard numerous reasonable accommodation cases. The rulings in these cases establish that reasonable accommodations may take the following forms:

  • Providing wheelchair accessibility to the building in which you work, plus your particular workspace within it
  • Providing one or more elevators if your workplace building contains multiple stories
  • Providing wheelchair accessible handicapped parking spaces
  • Providing whatever special equipment or supplies your disability requires
  • If you have a service animal, giving permission for you to bring him or her to work

Reasonable accommodation under California law

The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment adds the following examples of reasonable accommodations that California employers must provide you if you request them:

  • A change in job duties
  • A change in your work schedule
  • Relocation of your work area
  • Necessary electrical or mechanical aids
  • Reasonable leave time for you to obtain necessary medical care

The DFEH also advises that the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act may give you access to unpaid leave, as needed, as an additional form of accommodation.

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