Effective December 30, 2012, California employers will need to comply with the amended disability discrimination and accommodation regulations, which will change how California employers handle disabilities in the workplace. Employers will also need to take a look at their policies, handbooks and practices to ensure their compliance with the changes.
The amended regulations are designed to give broad protections to employees with disabilities that are similar to the protections provided under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) regulations.
Some of the key changes to the regulations that employers should take notice of include:
An expansion of the definitions of mental and physical disability, including several new examples of disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, clinical depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder;
Clear definitions and examples of what constitutes a perceived disability, a medical condition and genetic characteristics;
Clarification of what evidence might be used to show that a particular function is essential to a job, such as job descriptions, the work experience of past employees in the job or legitimate business consequences of not requiring the employee to perform the job function;
A detailed description of the interactive process and obligations of both the employer and the employee or job applicant during the process; and
An expanded definition of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation and specific examples of reasonable accommodations, such as providing reserved parking, allowing assistive animals in the workplace, allowing telecommuting and making an exception to an employer's practice or policy. There is also a discussion of when a leave of absence might be an appropriate accommodation.
The amendments to the disability regulations are separate and apart from the recently amended pregnancy disability regulations (PDL), which also took effect on December 30, 2012.
New California Pregnancy Disability Leave Regulations Take Effect December 30th
Employee Management > EEO - Discrimination: California
Employee Management > Disabilities (ADA): California