Definition

Reasonable Accommodation (RA) is a logical adjustment made to a job and/or the work environment that enables a qualified disabled person to perform the essential functions of that position. The RA shall not include altering essential job functions or creating positions that do not exist. The RA will be provided only when the accommodation is necessary to perform the essential functions of the job. Transportation, personal care needs, and supervisor/subordinate difficulties, etc., are not appropriate reasons for RA.

Background

Effective January 1, 2001, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) was amended to provide significantly broader protections to employees with disabilities. The amendments include an express declaration that the California statutes are intended to extend beyond the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): broadening the definition of “disability”, delineating new and different unlawful employment practices arising from certain pre-employment and post-employment inquiries, and prohibiting failure to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process with the employee to determine a RA for the disability.

The amendments make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process with the employee or applicant to determine effective RAs, if any, in response to a request for RA by an employee or applicant with a known disability or medical condition. The RA may include such measures as: making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, adjustment or modification of examinations, training materials or policies; the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar actions. As a last resort, reassignment to a vacant position can be considered, provided the individual meets the minimum qualifications of the classification and can perform the essential functions of the job.

Policy

The Department of General Services’ (DGS) policy is to fully comply with the RA requirements of the FEHA. Under the law, state agencies must provide RA to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. DGS is committed to providing RAs to its employees and applicants for employment in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities enjoy full access to equal employment opportunity at the DGS. DGS provides RAs:

  • when an applicant with a disability needs an accommodation in order to be considered for a job; or
  • when an employee with a disability needs an accommodation to enable him or her to perform the essential functions of the job or to gain access to the workplace; or
  • when an employee with a disability needs an accommodation to enable him or her to perform the essential functions of the job or to gain access to the workplace; or
  • when an employee with a disability needs an accommodation to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment; or
  • when a non-employee needs an accommodation.

Procedure

  1. The employee requests a RA and/or completes a Request for RA form, DGS OHR 01 and submits to the Supervisor/Office Chief.
  2. The Supervisor/Office Chief reviews request or the DGS OHR 01; attaches an essential functions job description (Duty Statement); has the employee complete an Authorization for the Release of Medical Information form, DGS OHR 04 and DGS OHR 01; and forwards the complete package to the DGS Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (RAC) in the Office of Human Resources (OHR) within five (5) working days.
  3. The RAC receives the Request for RA documentation. The RAC and Supervisor speak with the employee and engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process to determine effective RAs. The RAC and Supervisor must keep written notes of the conversation(s) with the employee. When more than one accommodation exists, DGS will consider any and all RAs of which it is aware or that are brought to its attention by the applicant or employee. The RAC shall respond to the request within twenty (20) days of receipt.
  4. The RAC contacts the health care provider and the employee immediately, consults as necessary, and determines the appropriateness of the RA Request.
  5. The Physician submits the medical information to the RAC within ten (10) working days.
  6. When the medical information is received, the RAC analyzes the information.
    • If the RA Request is approved and the employee is found to be disabled, the following happens:
      • If the request is for a change of duties:
        1. Transfer
        2. Exempt from transfer
        3. Special hours
      • If the employee is unable to perform essential functions of the position, the RAC will seek alternate resolution(s):
        1. Demotion
        2. Change in classification
        3. Find suitable and available position(s)
    • If the employee is found to be disabled and the request is for equipment, the RAC seeks and effects solution(s):
      • Advises employee's office of what equipment to order in a written RA approval letter; or
      • The RAC follows up with the employee and supervisor to ensure the equipment has been delivered and installed.

Employees may refer to EEOC’s “Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act” for additional information on the rights and responsibilities of applicants and employees requesting RA.

Resources

Government Code Sections

  • 19230, 19231, 19232, 19233, 19234, 19236, 19237

Other Resource Materials

Responsible Control Agency

  • State Personnel Board

Contact

Return to Work Unit

Department of General Services
Office of Human Resources

707 3rd Street, 7th Floor
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Email: OHRReasonableAccomCatLeave@dgs.ca.gov