Can I Sue My Employer for Not Accommodating My Disability?

can i sue my employer for not accommodating my disability

Navigating the complexities of disability accommodations in the workplace can be challenging, especially when an employer refuses to provide the necessary adjustments. In California, employees facing such a situation often wonder, “Can I sue my employer for not accommodating my disability?” This article aims to shed light on the legal aspects surrounding this issue, exploring ADA violations, reasonable accommodations, and the rights of disabled workers.

Understanding ADA Violations in California:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) complements the ADA, offering additional protections in California. Employers in the state are obligated to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, and failure to do so may constitute an ADA violation.

When Is an Accommodation Not Considered Reasonable in California?

While employers are generally required to provide reasonable accommodations, there are instances where certain adjustments may be deemed unreasonable. Factors such as undue hardship on the employer’s business, essential job duties, and the nature of the disability play crucial roles in determining reasonableness.

Defining Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Workers:

Reasonable accommodations refer to modifications or adjustments that enable employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their job. These accommodations can take various forms, such as changes to work schedules, modifications to the work environment, or the provision of assistive technology. It is essential to understand the specific needs of the disabled employees and find solutions that ensure equal opportunities and access to employment.

Protected Disabilities under California Law:

California employment law protects a broad range of disabilities, falling into three main categories:

  1. Physical Disabilities: Conditions affecting the body, such as mobility impairments, chronic illnesses, or physical limitations.

  2. Mental Disabilities: Disorders affecting mental health, including anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.

  3. Perceived Disabilities: Employees who are perceived as disabled, even if they don’t have one, are also protected under the law. 

Employer’s Duty: When Can an Employer in California Refuse to Hire Someone with a Disability?

California employers cannot discriminate against job applicants based on their disabilities. However, there are specific situations where an employer may refuse to hire someone with a disability:

  • The individual is unable to perform essential job functions, even with reasonable accommodations.

  • Providing accommodations would cause undue hardship on the employer.

  • The employee poses a significant risk to health or safety, which cannot be eliminated with reasonable accommodations.

Filing an ADA Complaint with the EEOC:

If an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodations, employees have the option to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC investigates such complaints and may take legal action if necessary. However, before filing a complaint, it is advisable to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to assess the situation thoroughly.

Can I Sue My Employer for Failing to Provide a Reasonable Accommodation?

In cases where an employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodation, employees may consider legal action. Before pursuing a lawsuit, it is crucial to understand the following key factors:

  1. Good Faith Interactive Process: Employers and employees are expected to engage in a good faith interactive process to determine appropriate accommodations. Failure to engage in this process may strengthen an employee’s case in a lawsuit.

  2. Essential Job Functions: Employers are not required to accommodate employees if doing so would interfere with the essential functions of the job. It is essential to define these functions clearly.

  3. Undue Hardship: Employers may refuse accommodation requests if they can demonstrate that providing them would cause undue hardship. Factors such as financial resources, business operations, and the company’s size are considered in assessing undue hardship.

Why Do You Need an Attorney?

Seeking legal representation is crucial when navigating the complexities of employment law and disability accommodations. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable assistance in the following ways:

  1. Understanding Your Rights: Employment laws are intricate, and an attorney can help you comprehend your rights under the ADA, FEHA, and other relevant statutes. They can assess the specifics of your situation and guide you on the best course of action.

  2. Navigating the Legal Process: Filing complaints with agencies like the EEOC involves specific procedures. An attorney can help you navigate the legal process, ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to protect your rights.

  3. Negotiating with Employers: In many cases, disputes can be resolved through negotiation. An attorney can represent your interests, engaging in discussions with your employer to reach a favorable resolution without going to court.

  4. Litigation Support: If negotiations fail, your attorney can provide robust representation in court. They can build a compelling case, present evidence, and argue on your behalf to secure the compensation and justice you deserve.

  5. Expertise in Employment Law: Employment attorneys specialize in navigating the intricacies of employment law. They stay updated on changes in legislation and precedents, ensuring that your case is handled with the latest legal knowledge.

can i sue my employer for not accommodating my disability

In California, the rights of employees with disabilities are protected by robust state and federal laws. If you find yourself asking, “Can I sue my employer for not accommodating my physical or mental disability?” it is crucial to understand the nuances of ADA violations, reasonable accommodations, and the legal obligations of employers. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced employment law attorney is a prudent step to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive fair treatment in the workplace. Remember, knowledge is power, and being informed about your rights is the first step toward seeking justice.

If you believe your employer has violated your rights by failing to provide reasonable accommodations for your disability, it’s time to take action. BLG is here to help you navigate the complexities of ADA violations in California and ensure you receive the justice you deserve. Our experienced team is here to guide you through the legal intricacies, ensuring your rights are protected.

Contact us today for a free consultation.


What is an example of failure to accommodate?

An example of failure to accommodate could be an employer refusing to provide a reasonable adjustment for an employee with a disability, such as not providing necessary equipment, modifying work hours, or not making the workplace accessible.

What if my employer is not following reasonable accommodation?

If your employer is not following reasonable accommodation, you may want to communicate your concerns with your supervisor or the human resources department. If the issue persists, you may consider filing a complaint with the relevant government agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the United States.

What happens when a company violates the ADA?

When a company violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), legal consequences may follow. This could result in the company facing fines, penalties, or being required to make necessary accommodations for employees with disabilities. Individuals who experience discrimination may also have the right to file a lawsuit against the company.

What are examples of disability discrimination?

Refusing to hire or promote based on disability, harassment, failure to provide reasonable accommodations, termination due to disability, unequal pay, and denying training opportunities based on disability. Laws vary by country.

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