The Interactive Process: 3 Things to Know
As you may know, under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (the "FEHA"), employers must provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee who, due to his/her mental or physical disability or medical condition, is unable to perform the essential functions of his/her job. Relatedly, the FEHA also requires that an employer engage in the interactive process with such an employee once the need for a reasonable accommodation arises. The purpose of the interactive process is to determine whether the employee can perform the essential functions of his/her job with or without a reasonable accommodation and to figure out what that reasonable accommodation could be. An employer's failure to engage in this interactive process is in turn a violation of the FEHA. Here are three things that you should know about the interactive process:
1. Under the FEHA, an employer must initiate the interactive process: (a) when an employee with a known mental or physical disability or medical condition requests a reasonable accommodation; or (b) when an employer becomes aware of an employee's need for accommodation through a third party or by observation; or (c) when an employer becomes aware of an employee's possible need for accommodation because the employee has exhausted leave, but a reasonable accommodation may still be necessary for recuperative leave or for the employee to perform the essential functions of his/her job.
2. When the employee's disability or his/her need for a reasonable accommodation is not obvious, and the employee has provided no reasonable medical documentation, an employer may ask for medical documentation that confirms the existence of the disability and the need for a reasonable accommodation. However, the employee is not required to disclose the nature of the disability to the employer.
3. As a result of the interactive process, the employer must either grant the requested accommodation or reject the accommodation if the accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the employer. But if the employer rejects the requested accommodation, the employer must also initiate discussion with the employee regarding alternative accommodations.
If you have questions about the interactive process under the FEHA, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Roseville, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, and Concord.
The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.