California law aggressively protects workers in this state. Employers face an ever-increasing and complex burden to comply with all state and federal laws applicable to employee disabilities and the need for accommodations. The law favors California employees in nearly every circumstance, and it is important to respond to requests for accommodations timely, and in good faith, to protect your business from potential litigation.
Every business is different, and there are countless ways that employees may require accommodations in the workplace. Navigating state and federal laws on accommodation requires significant expertise. Winet Patrick Gayer Creighton & Hanes has successfully represented private corporations, school districts, colleges, and other private and public organizations for over 25 years and has the expertise needed to help your business or organization minimize the risk of a claim or lawsuit for failure to accommodate. We are here to help you work through the accommodations and interactive process requirements, help brainstorm creative ways to handle challenging situations and employees, and defend litigation if your business or organization is faced with an employment practices lawsuit.
Government Code § 12940(m) provides that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail to make reasonable accommodations for the known physical disability for an employee unless doing so would impose an “undue hardship.” California Code of Regulations Title II, Section 293.9; Sargent v. Litton Systems Inc. (Northern District California 1994) 841 F.Supp. 956 (960)
What constitutes as “reasonable accommodation” is not always easy to define. However, what is clear is that an employer is expected to understand state and federal laws governing employee accommodations, is charged with implementing policies and procedures, interactive process meetings, accommodations, and return to work plans in a timely manner, and faces significant damages and penalties for mistakes or failures to comply.
Under FEHA, an employer has an affirmative duty to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee, and that duty is a continuing one that is not exhausted by one effort. Swanson v. Morongo Unified School District (2014) 232 Cal.App.4th 954. Further, an employee is typically entitled to preferential reassignment even if other candidates are more qualified. Jensen v. Wells Fargo Bank (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 45, 262. As a result, employers are under a continuing obligation to engage in an interactive process to reasonably accommodate their employees. This is often a difficult burden for employers and if mistakes are made, a prevailing Plaintiff may be entitled to attorney’s fees. Therefore, it is very important that you have experienced attorneys handling your case from start to finish.
Sometimes, employers are unfamiliar with the complex requirements to hold an interactive process to determine what accommodations you may require and are not intentionally failing to accommodate an injured or disabled employee. In other situations, an employer may feel it is too much hassle to try to accommodate the employee so that the employee can return to work.
Some employment related issues can be resolved amicably with the right legal acumen and communication. If that is necessary, WPGCH has the knowledge and experience to help. Other employment issues are destined for litigation. If that is the case, we can aggressively assist you or your business and are not afraid to try your case if necessary. Many attorneys claim that they are experienced in employment litigation, but many of them lack the trial experience you may need to obtain justice. WPGCH attorneys have the experience you need, both inside and outside of the courtroom, to prevail. Contact us today.