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What if an employer won’t accommodate a worker’s medical needs?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2023 | Failure To Accommodate / ADA

Some people have had medical limitations their entire lives because of birth injuries or genetic conditions. Others develop medical issues that manifest later in life or that result from traumatic injuries or other factors beyond their control. Regardless of when someone develops a disabling medical condition, their health concerns could very easily affect their career.

Sometimes, an individual’s symptoms might prevent them from performing job duties. Other times, they may need support to perform the same work that other people in the same position do. There are both federal and California state rules that protect the rights of workers with disabling medical conditions. One of the most basic expectations for someone with a medical condition is that their employer will provide reasonable accommodations to keep them on the job. What happens if a company won’t provide basic accommodations for an injured worker?

The worker may need to make a formal request

Simply asking a manager or supervisor for support might lead to an informal and inappropriate response. If an initial request for accommodations had an unfavorable outcome, then a formal follow-up communication attempt with human resources or management in writing is often necessary.

Under California law, workers do not necessarily need to provide medical documentation affirming their diagnosis provided that their disability or need for accommodations is relatively obvious. However, having written documentation from a physician often facilitates the accommodation request process, making it easier and faster for someone to convey to their employer exactly what accommodations they require.

If the employer refuses to accommodate someone even when there is documentation of medical need and a properly-submitted request, they will often try to assert that helping the employee by providing assistive technology, altering their job responsibilities or otherwise supporting them on the job would pose an undue hardship for the organization.

The bigger a company is, the harder it will be for them to convince the state that it is a hardship to provide reasonable medical accommodations for a worker with a disabling medical condition. Although it can take some time, the worker can fight for the support they need. In some cases, the dispute about the accommodation request may need to go all the way to the courts.

Those facing disability discrimination, which is essentially what a refusal to reasonably accommodate someone is, will likely benefit from seeking legal guidance. Learning about accommodations and disability discrimination may help California workers fight for the support they need to keep supporting themselves via gainful employment.