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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Accommodation Mandates and Antidiscrimination Law


Legal requirements that employers provide specified benefits, such as workers' compensation and family leave, to their workers as a whole are virtually omnipresent in modern employment law and date back to the early part of the twentieth century. Newer mandates, however, often are directed to discrete groups of workers, such as the disabled. Since these mandates, intended to accommodate the unique needs of a group of workers, regulate a market relationship--that of employer and employee--an obvious set of questions involves how such mandates affect the wages and employment levels of employees. While there is an accepted economic framework for analyzing the effects of mandates directed to workers as a whole, accommodation mandates raise distinct issues. Central among these is the way in which antidiscrimination law interacts with them. While many commentators suggest that accommodation mandates are fundamentally distinct from antidiscrimination law (so that, for example, a requirement to provide special accommodation for disabled workers is fundamentally distinct from a requirement not to "discriminate against" these workers), this Article argues that the economic analysis of the two forms of legal intervention supports the view that they are similar rather than distinct.

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