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What 'reasonable accommodations' must employers provide?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects people with physical and mental disabilities throughout all phases of the employment process -- from recruitment, to hiring, to pay and opportunities on the job, to firing.

However, as many people with noticeable disabilities are well aware, just getting a job (even one for which you are eminently qualified) can be challenging. Some employers don't want to make even simple accommodations that might be required.

Under the ADA, which is enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers with at least 15 employees are required to make "reasonable accommodations" in the workplace for people with disabilities. "Reasonable" means that the accommodations don't cause undue hardship on the employer, either because of their expense or their difficulty in implementing and sustaining.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include:

-- Modifying or providing new equipment-- Allowing modified or flexible schedules-- Providing increased accessibility in the workplace-- Restructuring the job-- Reassignment

The last of these may occur if a current employee becomes disabled, either through illness or injury. People who become disabled may no longer be able to do the job they previously had. However, employers are required to offer them a different position they are able to fulfill.

As with any kind of employment discrimination, unless a potential or current employer specifically references a person's disability as the reason he or she wasn't hired or for any negative action, it can be difficult to prove discrimination. However, if you believe that you have been denied a job, promotion, equal pay or benefits, an experienced California employment attorney can offer guidance.

Source: FindLaw, "ADA: Disabilities & Your Rights as an Employee," accessed April 28, 2017

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