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Blanket ‘fully healed’ policies violate California law, which requires a good faith interactive proc

In July of 2019, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) reached a settlement in an employment disability discrimination case involving a retail store clerk who alleged she was subjected to discrimination, denied a good-faith interactive process and reasonable accommodation, and retaliated against after she informed her employer about her disability and need for accommodation. The employee filed a complaint with DFEH in 2018 alleging that her employer stopped scheduling her for a month after she submitted a doctor’s note requiring a change to her work schedule.

For disability-related reasons, the employee couldn’t both open the store in the morning and close it at night. The employer ultimately provided a new work schedule, but significantly reduced the employee’s work hours and demoted her.The company also had an unlawful “fully healed” policy that required employees who were out sick to bring in a doctor’s note indicating they could “resume full duty” before they could return to work. The DFEH found cause to believe a violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act had occurred. The parties engaged in mediation resulting in a settlement that included recovery of the employee’s lost wages, emotional distress and the DFEH’s attorney fees.

Blanket ‘fully healed’ policies violate California law, which requires a good faith interactive process when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation, including a schedule change. Employers cannot ignore requests for accommodations, or unilaterally remove employees from the schedule when they request an accommodation.

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