- Written by Greg Blueford
The California Appellate Court recently ruled in favor of an employer who attempted to reasonably accommodate an employee but could not do so because the employee could not perform the essential job functions and there were not any alternate positions for which the employee was qualified.
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the work environment that enables the employee to perform the essential functions of the job he or she holds. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (and comparable federal law) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for the known disability unless doing so would produce undue hardship to the employer’s operation.
In Nealy v. City of Santa Monica, Plaintiff Tony Nealy was a solid waste equipment operator and injured his knee on the job moving a large bin of food waste in 2003. The City advised Nealy that it would consider a lateral transfer or voluntary demotion and identified a groundskeeper position that was approved by the City doctor.
In 2006, Nealy was having trouble performing some groundskeeper duties and was later permitted to do light duty office work. Nealy expressed his wish to return to a solid waste equipment operator position as a driver of an automatic garbage truck. However, the City identified numerous essential functions that it believed Nealy could not perform based on some restrictions Nealy had, such as his inability to kneel, squat or climb. The City discussed reassigning Nealy to an alternate vacant position and identified alternate positions for which Nealy could apply. However, Nealy was not qualified for these positions and was not hired for either of the positions to which he applied. Nealy sued the city alleging, among other things, failure to engage in the interactive process and failure to provide reasonable accommodation.
- Written by Carl Larson
What is PSL?:
PSL provides that an employee who, on or after July 1, 2015, works in California for 30 or more days within a year from the commencement of employment is entitled to 24 hours or 3 days of PSL. PSL accrues at the rate of 1 hour per every 30 hours worked, paid at the employee’s current rate of pay.
What PSL means for Collective Bargaining Agremeents (CBAs)?
While PSL applies to all employees, including those who are seasonal, temporary, part-time, and full-time there are three exemptions. PSL does not apply to (1) employees who are covered by a valid CBA which expressly provides paid sick days, as further explained below; (2) in-home support services employees; and (3) airline flight deck or cabin crew employees who have equivalent benefits. The intent behind these exemptions is to prevent duplicative coverage of employees who already receive this benefit.