Reasonable Accommodation of Disabilities

State and federal disability laws require covered employers to reasonably accommodate an individual’s disability if the employer knows of the disability, unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship.

A “reasonable accommodation” is any modification or adjustment in a job, an employment practice or the work environment that allows an individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity (29 CFR sec. 1630.2(o), 2 CCR sec. 11065(p)).

It is also any modification or adjustment that is effective in enabling an employee to perform the essential functions of the job the employee holds or desires or to enjoy equivalent benefits and privileges of employment that similarly situated employees without disabilities enjoy.

The reasonable accommodation obligation is an ongoing duty and may arise anytime a person’s disability or job changes. Disability discrimination laws do not require you to make any modification, adjustment or change to a job or policy that you can demonstrate would fundamentally alter the essential functions of the job in question.​

California’s disability regulations provide guidance on reasonable accommodation and the interactive process.​​

  • Examples of Accommodations

    Examples of AccommodationsThe term "reasonable accommodation" includes, but is not limited to the following:  More »

  • Accommodating Residual Effects of a Disability

    Accommodating Residual Effects of a DisabilityEmployers must reasonably accommodate an employee who is suffering the “residual effects of a disability.”  More »

  • Interactive Process for Reasonable Accommodations

    Interactive Process for Reasonable AccommodationsWhen an employee or applicant with a known disability or medical condition requests reasonable accommodation, the FEHA requires you to engage in a timely, good-faith interactive process to determine effective reasonable accommodations.  More »

  • Obligations of the Employer in the Interactive Process

    Obligations of the Employer in the Interactive ProcessThe interactive process can be triggered by a number of events.  More »

    ​R​ead about a new 2016 court case.
  • Obligations of the Employee in the Interactive Process

    Obligations of the Employee in the Interactive ProcessEmployees must cooperate in good faith in the reasonable accommodation process.  More »

  • Employer Must Go Beyond Initial Accommodation

    Employer Must Go Beyond Initial AccommodationYou must try more than once to accommodate an employee under the ADA, according to a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  More »

  • Reasonable Accommodation Obligation Is Ongoing

    Reasonable Accommodation Obligation Is OngoingA "good faith" interactive process is an ongoing effort.  More »

  • Reassignment as a Reasonable Accommodation

    Reassignment as a Reasonable AccommodationIf the employee can no longer perform the essential functions of his/her job, reasonable accommodation might include transfer to a different job or schedule.  More »

    ​Read​ about a new 2015 court case.
  • Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation

    Telecommuting as a Reasonable AccommodationTelecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Several courts have addressed the question of whether an employee must be allowed to work from home as a reasonable accommodation.  More »

  • Extended Disability Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation

    Extended Disability Leave as a Reasonable AccommodationCalifornia employers must engage in a good-faith interactive process to determine if any necessary accommodations exist for an individual.  More »

  • Attendance and Accommodations

    Attendance and Accommodations If an employee cannot attend work on a regular basis in a job that requires face-to-face customer contact, allowing the employee to work from home is not a reasonable accommodation.  More »

  • Seniority System and Accommodation

    Seniority System and AccommodationThe U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a request for a job change to accommodate an employee's disability may not be "reasonable" if it requires the employer to violate a seniority policy.   More »

  • Assistive Animals as an Accommodation

    Assistive Animals as an AccommodationOne potential reasonable accommodation is allowing applicants or employees to bring assistive animals to the work site.  More »

    ​Read about a 2016 administrative action.
  • Failure to Accommodate

    Failure to AccommodateAn employee whose request for accommodation is rejected by an employer must make a timely complaint to the appropriate enforcement agency, or the claim is barred.   More »

  • Undue Hardship

    Undue HardshipYou are not required to reasonably accommodate a qualified individual with a disability if you can show that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship.   More »

  • Defenses

    DefensesDefenses  More »

  • Direct Threat to Health or Safety of Others

    Direct Threat to Health or Safety of OthersUnder the ADA and FEHA, you are not required to hire or retain an applicant or employee who poses a "direct threat" to the health and safety of co-workers or others.   More »

  • Direct Threat to Health or Safety of Self

    Direct Threat to Health or Safety of SelfThe FEHA clearly provides that an employee or applicant is not qualified if a disability poses a direct threat to his/her own health or safety.  More »

  • Food Handling Risk

    Food Handling RiskYou can refuse to assign food-handling duties to employees who have a communicable or infectious disease that can be transmitted to others through the handling of food, if the risk cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.  More »

  • Health Care Employees Threat to Others

    Health Care Employees Threat to OthersIn the health care industry, the court looks at a four-part test to evaluate the direct threat that a health care employee with an infectious disease poses to others:   More »

  • Reasonable Accommodation and Hostile Conduct

    Reasonable Accommodation and Hostile ConductEmployers that want to discipline employees for threatening conduct that may be attributed to a disability are advised to discuss the intended disciplinary measures with knowledgeable employment counsel.  More »