Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, an employer who knows of the disability of an employee has an affirmative duty to make known to the employee other suitable job opportunities with the employer and to determine whether the employee is interested in, and qualified for, those positions, if the employer can do so without undue hardship. This is often referred to as the employer’s duty to make reasonable accommodations.
The employer must engage in a timely, good faith interactive process with a disabled employee to determine effective reasonable accommodations. An employer must initiate an interactive process when (1) an employee with a known physical or mental disability or medical condition requests reasonable accommodations, or (2) the employer otherwise becomes aware of the need for an accommodation through a third party or by observation. Thus, if an employer knows a disabled employee needs an accommodation, he still has an obligation to initiate the interactive process even though the employee has not requested relief. Failure to engage in the interactive process or offer reasonable accommodation is unlawful under California and federal law.
Additionally, employers cannot discriminate against disabled employees or cause them to be harassed on account of a disability. Nor may an employee be retaliated against for exercising his or her rights under anti-discrimination laws.