MCLE Self-Study: NOT WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED: THE LIMITED UTILITY OF DOCTOR’S NOTES DURING THE INTERACTIVE PROCESS
By Kate LaQuay
Kate LaQuay is Principal Attorney at Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP. She has broad experience in business litigation and regulatory matters, with an emphasis on resolving employment disputes on behalf of employers. Ms. LaQuay’s practice focuses on wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and failure to accommodate claims, and wage/hour disputes (including individual, PAGA and class action claims). She received her A.B. from Stanford University and her J.D. from U.C. Davis School of Law. Ms. LaQuay can be contacted at (310) 286-0377 and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many non-lawyers have a general understanding that California employers may be required to "accommodate" an employee’s disability. Less well understood, however, is that the employer’s obligation to do so is subject to certain limitations. In some cases, based on the employee’s job, disability and work restrictions, an accommodation that would allow the employee to keep working simply may not exist.1 However, even if the proposed accommodation were theoretically possible, only accommodations that are "reasonable" under the law must be provided.2 For example, an employer is not required to change an employee’s supervisor even if the employee’s doctor has so requested as an accommodation for the employee’s anxiety and depression, because that is not a "reasonable" accommodation.3 Neither employees nor employers should assume that specific job changes are required to be implemented solely because a doctor has "so ordered."