Should I notify my California employer of my medical diagnosis?

Question: I was diagnosed with a compression fracture of the spine and severe depression. I want to ask for time off but I want to keep my privacy at work. Should I inform my employer of my health or psychological state?

A: No. The employee is not required to disclose the nature of their medical condition or disability (i.e., diagnosis). The employee is only required to provide reasonable medical documentation describing the employee’s physical or mental condition. limits, which can prevent them from doing their job. For example, medical documentation may simply state that the employee is prohibited from lifting more than 25 pounds.

The employer cannot investigate the “nature or severity” of the employee’s disability. The employer cannot request the employee’s complete medical records as these records may be unrelated to the need for accommodation. The employer also cannot question the employee about the underlying medical cause of the disability (unless such a medical examination is “job related” and “in accordance with a professional necessity”). .

To what extent should an employee’s health condition be disclosed to the employer? If an employee’s disability or medical condition is not evident, the employer may require the employee to provide reasonable medical documentation confirming the existence of the disability and the need for reasonable accommodation. This medical documentation may contain the following:

  1. The name and credentials of the health care provider
  2. Certification from the health care provider that the employee suffers from a physical or mental condition that limits a major life activity or medical condition, and a description of the reason why the employee needs reasonable accommodation.

“Reasonable accommodation” is necessary if the employee’s state of health limits a major activity of life, such as performing the necessary tasks that the job requires. To have a limitation in the exercise of a major activity of life is to have a handicap. Reasonable accommodation may include granting or extending leave to allow for medical treatment, offering part-time or modified working hours, or providing facilities accessible to people with disabilities.

Even if the state of health does not limit any major life activity (i.e. there is no handicap), an employee is always entitled to reasonable accommodation if he or she needs to be absent from work for medical treatment or medical appointments.

In order for the employer to provide reasonable accommodation to the employee, the employer must know that the employee needs such accommodation. The employer knows that an employee has a disability when the employee informs the employer of the condition, or when the employer becomes aware of the condition, such as through a third party or by observation. Thus, if the employee’s disability becomes known or obvious, the employer must engage the employee in a timely manner and in good faith. interactive process to determine if reasonable accommodation can be made for the employee. The employer must start the interactive process.

Finally, California law prohibits discrimination based on disability or medical condition. An employer cannot fire or demote an employee because of their disability or medical condition.

The law firms of C. Joe Sayas, Jr. welcome inquiries on this matter. All requests are confidential and free of charge. You can contact the office at (818) 291-0088 or visit www.joesayaslaw.com. [C. Joe Sayas, Jr., Esq. is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully recovered wages and other monetary damages for thousands of employees and consumers. He was named Top Labor & Employment Attorney in California by the Daily Journal, consistently selected as Super Lawyer by the Los Angeles Magazine, and is a Presidential Awardee for Outstanding Filipino Overseas in 2018.]

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