Employers in California try hard to ensure their workplace is inclusive and pleasant for their employees. Even so, the law recognizes that certain classes of persons need extra protections in the workplace. For example, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must provide employees disabled employees with the “reasonable accommodations” that the employee needs to perform their job duties.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation can be something simple. For example, adjusting tasks performed, providing a parking spot close to the building, making work areas accessible and allowing a flexible work schedule are all examples of reasonable accommodations an employer may make. However, it is important to note that if an accommodation presents an “undue hardship” the employer need not undertake it.
What is an undue hardship?
If an accommodation would be significantly difficult or expensive it would be considered an “undue hardship,” meaning the employer need not provide that specific accommodation. Undue hardship is considered on a case-by-case basis. For example, installing a wheelchair ramp may be possible for a large employer with many resources. However, a small employer with few resources may find installing a wheelchair ramp to be an undue hardship. If the undue hardship involves a cost, employers need to give the disabled employee the choice of paying the extra costs that constitute the undue hardship.
Ultimately, while employers want all their employees to have the resources and accommodations that they need to perform their job, the ADA protects employers from having to undergo an undue hardship in doing so. In this way the ADA protects disabled employees who may otherwise be discriminated against, and it protects employers who want to follow the law but cannot bear the burden of an undue hardship.