Mitra Karimi, a partner in Goldberg Segalla’s Workers’ Compensation group, delved into the world of reasonable accommodation, and explored how employers can avoid litigation, in an article for CLM Magazine.
“Many claims have resulted in avoidable litigation due to an employer’s failure to engage in a timely, good-faith, interactive process to determine effective, reasonable accommodations for an employee or applicant with a known physical or mental disability or known medical condition,” Mitra explained in discussing how workers’ compensation claims relate to reasonable accommodations.
Mitra noted that both the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and the Americans with Disability Act, require an interactive process to be initiated by an employer as soon as the employer knows that an employee or applicant may need accommodation. That process, as outlined by the California Code of Regulations, means that “a timely, good-faith communication takes place between the employer or other covered entity and the applicant or employee (when necessary) in order to explore whether reasonable accommodations are needed to perform the essential functions of a job and how that person can be reasonably accommodated.”
For an employer to meet their duties during the interactive process, Mitra said that direct communication between an employer and employee is crucial as opposed to utilizing a third party, adding employers should act quickly as soon as the process begins. Employers also should have clear policies and procedures that govern accommodations, she advised.
“Litigation most often happens when employers have failed to document and record all of the accommodation attempts communicated to the employee or applicant and their responses,” Mitra noted. “Documenting everything can avoid future litigation.”
“Understanding the Interactive Process,” CLM Magazine, September 27, 2022
Mitra Karimi has more than 13 years of experience representing self-insured employers, insurance carriers, and third-party administrators in litigation before the California Workers’ Compensation Board and other venues. She has extensive experience providing counsel to clients on a wide range of complex workers’ compensation and employment matters and coordinating effective and innovative litigation strategies. She draws on a background defending employers and corporations in wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and wage and hour violations.