The California Fair Employment and Housing Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for the known disabilities of applicants and employees to enable them to perform a position’s essential functions, unless doing so would produce under hardship on the employer.
“Reasonable accommodation” means that employers have an affirmative duty to accommodate disabled workers. Some highly appointed executives often argue that their company should not be liable for failure to provide reasonable accommodation because the disabled employee did not inform them personally of his condition and only informed his/her immediate supervisor. However, this argument will not allow the employer to escape liability because a supervisor is the employer’s agent for purposes of the duty to accommodate. That is, if a supervisor has acquired knowledge that he or she had a duty to communicate to the employer information about an employee’s disability or medical condition, a conclusive presumption arises that the supervisor had done so. California Fair Employment and Housing Comm’n v. Gemini Aluminum Corp (2004).
This law makes perfect sense, as it would be unreasonable to expect a disabled or sick employee to notify of his condition every person superior to him in the company, especially if that company is large and employees hundreds of supervisors and managers. Arkady Itkin, San Francisco employment lawyer.