Interactive Process at Workplace in California

Under California law (Fair Employment and Housing Act or “FEHA”) an employer has an affirmative duty to engage in a timely, good-faith interactive process with an employee who is disabled or who the employer perceives to be disabled.

The interactive process is a discussion between an employer and employee that contemplates that the employee and employer will communicate directly with each other to exchange information about job skills and job openings to find a reasonable accommodations to the employee’s disability to the extent possible, without constituting undue hardship on the employer.

Communicating with the employee’s representatives, rather than with the employee personally, may suffice in some circumstances. In Hanson v. Lucky Stores, Inc., the court noted that it was appropriate for the employer to consult with employee’s doctors and vocational rehabilitation specialists in order to identify available and suitable positions and offer those to the disabled employee.