California has led the nation in requiring employers to reasonably accommodate works with disabilities. Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers may not discriminate against workers on the basis of their disabilities, whether workers are actually disabled or “regarded as” disabled by their employers.

The employee does not have to use any “magic words” to inform his or her employer about a disability, or when asking for an accommodation. Very often a reasonable accommodation will not cost the employer much at all.

So many workers are afraid to ask for anything special that coworkers don’t need, especially in the very tough world of high unemployment. But employers are forbidden from retaliating against employees who ask for accommodations.

Federal law is now coming closer to providing the broad protections that disabled workers in California enjoy. For years the federal courts seemed to put up roadblocks making it difficult for workers to get legal protection from discrimination. Under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act that should change. This new federal law explicitly states that the protections are to be construed broadly to include more workers.



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