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Reasonable accommodation for disabled workers

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects the employment rights of many California residents who have physical or mental disabilities. According to the ADA, covered employers are prohibited from discriminating against disabled workers in hiring decisions. They are also obligated to provide disabled workers with reasonable accommodations so that those workers are not limited in the tasks that they can do at work.

There is no precise definition of reasonable accommodations, and courts decide these issues on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include wheel chair ramps, elevators, handrails and specialized chairs. A disabled employee may also be reasonably accommodated if the employer provides help for tasks that the disabled employee cannot do alone. For example, a disabled employee may need assistance lifting heavy objects or getting things down from high shelves.

Employers do not have to accommodate every disabled employee in every kind of work-related task. If an employer would suffer a significant hardship or incur a significant expense by accommodating a disabled employee, the accommodation won't be considered reasonable. An example of an accommodation that is not reasonable is an employer who provides lifting assistance for an airport baggage checker.

The coverage of the ADA extends even during the interviewing and hiring process as well. However, companies can require disabled applicants to take a medical examination after an offer is extended as long as all other new employees are subject to that requirement. Courts are not all in agreement about the definitions of disability or reasonable accommodations, so courtroom arguments can be crucial in disability discrimination cases, which makes having the assistance of an attorney advisable.

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