Can an employer deny a request for reasonable accommodations?

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2024 | Employment |

Ensuring equal opportunities for all employees is a fundamental aspect of a fair and inclusive workplace.

In California, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. The question arises whether a California employer can deny such accommodations.

Understanding reasonable accommodations

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications made in the workplace. They allow employees with disabilities to perform their job duties effectively. These accommodations aim to level the playing field. This ensures that individuals with disabilities have equal access to employment opportunities.

Legal framework in California

California has robust laws in place to protect the rights of employees. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination against employees based on disability. It mandates that employers engage in a good faith interactive process to determine reasonable accommodations.

Assessing reasonableness

There are instances where employers may deny such requests. The key factor in this determination is the reasonableness of the requested accommodations. Employers do not have to provide accommodations that would impose undue hardship or significant difficulty on the business operations.

Balancing act

Employers need to strike a balance between meeting the needs of employees with disabilities and maintaining the efficiency of the workplace. Denying reasonable accommodations must come from a genuine assessment of the impact on the business, rather than a blanket refusal.

Interactive process

The interactive process is an important aspect of determining reasonable accommodations. Employers must engage in open communication with employees to understand their needs and explore potential solutions. This collaborative approach helps in finding accommodations that benefit both the employee and the employer.

While every situation is different, many requests put a minimal financial burden on an employer. A 2020 survey found that 49.4% of employer respondents made accommodations that were free to implement.