Skilled Litigators With A Proven Record Of Results

When can employers refuse to accommodate medical challenges?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2024 | Employment Law

A worker’s medical challenges typically do not prevent them from contributing to a company’s success. Especially when an employee has experience in a certain position or the required education for a role at a company, a medical issue might not actually be the main challenge preventing them from performing a job effectively and well.

Sometimes, it is the lack of accommodations from an employer that prevents someone with a disabling medical condition from achieving optimal job performance. Work-from-home arrangements, unusual schedules, assistive technology and accessible spaces can all help those with medical challenges enjoy successful and productive careers.

Most workers expect their employers to at least meet them halfway if they try to maintain their employment despite their medical challenges. Unfortunately, not all companies are eager to support those with disabling medical conditions.

Accommodations can cost companies money

Many employers might try to deny workers even the most basic accommodations by citing the expenses involved as a justification. The law imposes an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to give workers a fair shot regardless of their medical issues.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the rights of workers with disabling medical challenges to request reasonable accommodations from their employers. California laws expand on the ADA. Most of the time, refusing to provide accommodations is discrimination. What exceptions to this rule exist?

Smaller businesses have limited obligations

Under current ADA rules, a company needs to have at least 15 employees for reasonable accommodation rules to apply. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act expanded that coverage to businesses with five or more employees. Particularly small companies with only a handful of employees could refuse to provide accommodations on the basis of their compact size.

Bigger companies can claim undue hardship

Even when accommodation requirements should apply, employers may try to claim that they shouldn’t mean to provide a particular type of support. Companies can sometimes counter accommodation requests by claiming that the request creates an undue hardship for the company. If the demand would impose a massive expense or affect company operations negatively, then the company may have a reasonable justification to refuse the requested accommodations.

Being able to recognize workplace discrimination based on medical conditions and denied accommodation requests is important. Workers who understand their rights and who can identify discrimination can fight back against employer misconduct.

  • Super Lawyers 20 Years Badge For Patricio Barrera
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum Logo
  • Avvo Rating For Patricio Barrera
  • America's Top 100 High Stakes Litigators 2018 Badge
  • Top Verdicts | #16 Employment $ 1,750,000 | The Recorder | 2018 |