Many Health Care Providers Can Give Medical Certification of Disability


One of my employees asked to have his work station modified to accommodate a disability of which we were not aware. When we asked him to provide medical certification of the disability, the employee brought us a note from his acupuncturist. I thought the certification had to come from a medical doctor. Do we have to accept the note from his acupuncturist?

Yes, a medical certification from an acupuncturist is acceptable under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Employees in California are protected from discrimination related to their disabilities under the terms of the FEHA. In addition, the FEHA provides disabled employees with protections similar to those provided by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Certifying Disability

The regulations implementing the FEHA allow an employer to require an employee with a disability that is not readily identifiable to provide medical certification of the disability from a “health care provider” before beginning the interactive process of determining the reasonable accommodation of that disability.

The term “health care provider” is defined at Title 2, Section 11065(i) of the California Code of Regulations.

Many Health Care Services

The definition of “health care provider” set forth in that code section includes not only a medical doctor, but also a marriage and family therapist or acupuncturist, licensed in California or in another state or country.

Also included are any other persons who meet the definition of “others capable of providing health care services” under the federal Family Medical Leave Act and its implementing regulations.

These other health care providers include podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, clinical social workers and physician assistants.

So, be careful not to dismiss notes from nontraditional health care providers when requiring your employees to provide medical certification of their disabilities.

The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at

Staff Contact: David Leporiere