What is a Reasonable Accommodation under California Law?

Under California law an employer must make reasonable accommodations for the known disability of an employee or applicant. Cal. Gov’t Code §12940(m); Dep’t of Fair Emp. & Hous. v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., 642 F.3d 728, 743 (9th Cir. 2011). A reasonable accommodation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) is “a modification or adjustment to the workplace that enables the employee to perform the essential functions of the job held or desired.” Nadaf-Rahrov v. Neiman Marcus Group, Inc., 166 Cal. App. 4th 952, 974 (2008).

Employers are required to make a reasonable accommodation for the “known physical or mental disability of an applicant or employee” unless doing so would produce an undue hardship to the employer’s operation. Cal. Gov’t Code § 12940 (m)(1). “Undue hardship means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, when considered in light of the following factors: (1) The nature and cost of the accommodation needed. (2) The overall financial resources of the facilities involved in the provision of the reasonable accommodations, the number of persons employed at the facility, and the effect on expenses and resources or the impact otherwise of these accommodations upon the operation of the facility. (3) The overall financial resources of the covered entity, the overall size of the business of a covered entity with respect to the number of employees, and the number, type, and location of its facilities. (4) The type of operations, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce of the entity. (5) The geographic separateness or administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities.” Atkins v. City of L.A., 8 Cal. App. 5th 696, 733 (2017) (citing Cal. Gov’t Code § 12926(u)).

What does reasonable accommodation mean, in practice? The FEHA provides specific examples of possible reasonable accommodations, including the following:

(1) Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.

(2) Job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Cal. Gov’t Code § 12926(p).

The California Code of Regulations (“CCR”) provides a list of possible accommodations, including reasonable leaves of absence and reassignment to an alternate, temporary or vacant position in certain circumstances. Cal. Code Regs. tit. 2, § 11068(c)-(d).

In sum, there are many forms of reasonable accommodation and employers must make an effort to explore different alternative forms of reasonable accommodation. The failure to provide reasonable accommodation is common across different industries.


The workers’ rights attorneys at Hunter Pyle Law have handled failure to provide reasonable accommodation cases throughout California. If you have questions about your rights in the workplace, please feel free to contact us in order to utilize our free and confidential intake process. We can be reached at inquire@hunterpylelaw.com or at (510) 444-4400.