What is the interactive process for disabled employees?



What is the interactive process for disabled employees?

“Interactive process” is a discussion between the employer and a disabled employee, to try and find a “reasonable accommodation” that will let the employee keep working. It is a collaborative process that involves communicating ways in which an employer can help a worker who is disabled continue performing their job duties. The employee, or employee’s doctor, can certainly suggest ideas for accommodation, but the employer can’t put the entire burden on the employee and must do it best to find an accommodation as well.

California law requires employers to begin an interactive process if an employee requests reasonable accommodations. The interactive process is also triggered once an employer becomes aware that a worker has a disability that limits their ability to carry out the essential functions of their job. The employee doesn’t have to use exact words like “reasonable accommodation,” or have a deep knowledge of the process. But the more information you have the better.

The interactive process involves determining appropriate accommodations based on a worker’s job requirements and the limits posed by their disabilities. Employers should explore all potential options and ask the worker about their preferences. The dialogue must occur in good faith and in a timely manner. Employers may ask workers for documents to support their reasonable accommodations request, such as medical records from a doctor specifying work restrictions.

The interactive process is not a one-time occurrence. It is an ongoing process that requires evaluation of whether the provided reasonable accommodations are effective for the employee. Adjustments may be needed if the initial accommodation is not helping the worker.

Sometimes employers may deny reasonable accommodations based on undue hardship, meaning excessive difficulty or cost. While some companies may genuinely experience undue hardship, others may try to use it as an excuse to get out of providing accommodations.

Failing to participate in an interactive process can constitute disability discrimination. If your employer refuses to discuss reasonable accommodations that will allow you to continue working, you should reach out to a skilled San Francisco employment lawyer.

McCormack Law Firm can help you determine whether you have been subjected to disability discrimination. You may be able to hold your employer accountable for their violations of your rights. Contact us today for a free initial case evaluation.

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