Chemical Sensitivities in California Workplaces: Tips for Sniffing Out Your Compliance Obligations
|Date / Time:
Millions of individuals suffer from allergies or asthma, which can be exacerbated by common environmental agents, such as pollen, dust, latex, nuts, exhaust from commonly used appliances, ink, toner, cleaning supplies, fingernail polish, lotions, cologne, and more.
Chemical sensitivities can result in dermatitis and eczema.
Since many of the offending substances are regularly found in workplaces, including shared workspaces, common areas like restrooms, lunchrooms, and employee lounges, employers must understand their duty to accommodate those who develop an aversion to odors and allergies in the workplace under the ADA and FEHA.
In California, there is case law on multiple chemical sensitivities being a disability, but very little on specific policies beyond the requirement that the employer ban all such substances in the workplace if that is what it would take to avoid exposure by the employee. Many accommodation options identified in a few California cases probably won't work here, such as giving the employee a private work space and separate restroom facilities, telecommuting, and extended discretionary leave of absence.
The quandary for California employers is how to balance compliance obligations with a number of practical issues that often arise when odors and allergies cause flare-ups in the workplace.
Participate in this interactive webinar, and you'll learn:
- Tools for dealing with demands for a scent-free, chemical-free, allergen-free workplace, including legal obligations under the ADA/FEHA
- Practical strategies for managing the workplace when an employee has a chemical sensitivity due to odors and scents
- How to identify potential compliance obligations under the ADA/FEHA when fragrance, odor, and other chemical sensitivity issues erupt in the workplace
- The difference between fragrance sensitivity and allergies
- When an individual's scent-based ailments are likely protected under the ADA/FEHA and how California law provides broader protections for employees with allergies than the ADA
- Practical strategies for accommodating scent-based allergies in your workplace and the variety of accommodation options you should consider
- What you can and cannot ask for in medical documentation to establish that the affected employee's chemical sensitivity or allergy is a FEHA disability
- How to respond to overly broad or ambiguous work restrictions from medical providers
- How to recognize when an employee's gripe about a co-worker's fragrance is actually a request for reasonable accommodation under California FEHA
- Three things your organization should never do when an employee with a scent allergy requests an accommodation
- Tips for handling interpersonal conflicts that may arise between coworkers when one's perfume or soap is allegedly making the other sick
- When telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation to consider for mitigating the effects of a chemical sensitivity
- When a leave of absence is an appropriate (and last resort) reasonable accommodation - and when it's not
- How to develop a policy on fragrances that passes the legal sniff test in California, including sample policy language to include
- How a supervisor's insensitivity to a subordinate's claim of chemical sensitivity can result in liability far in excess of what a routine accommodation would have cost her employer
- Why training is absolutely critical for your front line leaders in California
- Whether implementing a perfume-free workplace may be a reasonable accommodation that you must make and how to satisfy California's tough undue hardship defense
- Case studies involving real organizations that have faced allergy and odor accommodation challenges
- And much more!
In just 90 minutes, you'll get the facts behind asthma and allergy sensitivities and when these ailments are considered disabilities under the ADA. Register now for this timely event risk-free.
About your presenter:
Attorney Patricia Eyres is the managing partner of Eyres Law Group, LLP, a specialized law practice focusing exclusively on helping employers in the areas of labor, employment, and education law. Her clients range from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, school districts, and public agencies. In addition to guiding employers through the maze of risks associated with workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, she is an expert on return-to-work, reasonable accommodation, and leave of absence compliance.
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|Licenses / Designations / Educational Credits:||PHR / SPHR Re-Certification Credits|
All US States: 1.5
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|Keywords For This Course:|
California, ADA, FEHA, Fair Employment and Housing Act, Odors
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