Protecting your rights in the workplace.

How Do You Prove Disability Discrimination in California?

Discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the workplace is prohibited under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). If you believe you have faced disability discrimination, understanding how to prove your case is crucial.

Establishing Disability Status

The first step in proving disability discrimination is establishing your disability status. Under FEHA, a disability is broadly defined as a physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity. Additionally, medical conditions such as cancer or HIV/AIDS also qualify. Providing medical documentation and expert opinions, if necessary, can substantiate your disability status.

Adverse Employment Action

To prove disability discrimination, you must demonstrate that you experienced an adverse employment action due to your disability. This could include:

  • Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodations: When employers fail to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, hindering their ability to perform essential job functions. FEHA mandates that employers provide reasonable accommodations.
  • Disparate Treatment: Intentional differential treatment of employees with disabilities leading to unfair and unfavorable employment decisions based solely on their disability.
  • Harassment: Unwelcome comments, actions, or behaviors directed at employees with disabilities, creating a hostile work environment and impacting their well-being.
  • Retaliation: When employers take adverse actions against employees for asserting their rights under disability discrimination laws, such as requesting accommodations or filing complaints.
  • Denial of Promotions or Opportunities: The unfair denial of career advancement, promotions, or access to professional development opportunities based on an employee’s disability.
  • Segregation: When employees with disabilities are isolated or excluded from regular workplace activities, limiting their full participation in the work environment.
  • Inaccessible Facilities or Technologies: Failing to provide accessible physical spaces or technologies, making it difficult or impossible for employees with disabilities to perform their job duties effectively.
  • Wrongful Termination: Terminating an employee solely due to their disability.
  • Perceived Disability Discrimination: When individuals are treated unfavorably based on a perceived disability, even if they are not disabled.
  • Medical Examinations and Inquiries: Subjecting employees to unnecessary medical examinations or inquiries unrelated to job requirements violating their privacy rights.

A clear connection between the adverse action and your disability is crucial.

Types of Evidence to Gather

Proving disability requires establishing the following three elements with evidence:

  • You were qualified for the job;
  • You have/had a disability; and,
  • Your disability was the motivation behind your employer’s adverse treatment.

Demonstrating Your Qualifications

Providing job descriptions from relevant postings, training materials, employer communications, your resume, and onboarding documents can help solidify your case. Additionally, witness testimonies regarding your duties can offer valuable support.

Proving Your Disability

Medical records, along with corroborating testimony, can prove you have or had a disability. However, in cases where discrimination is based on a perceived disability, substantiating employer statements or nonverbal conduct regarding your mental or physical abilities becomes crucial.

Establishing Disability as the Motivation for Adverse Treatment

Directly proving disability discrimination can be achieved through documents or testimony regarding explicit statements made by your employer about your disability. In the absence of such direct evidence, utilizing documents and testimony to showcase disparate treatment compared to similarly situated employees without your disability is key. Relevant evidence may include job advertisements, application forms, employer correspondence, employer policies, personnel records, legally obtained recordings, and witness testimony.

Seeking guidance from a trusted Los Angeles disability discrimination attorney is critical. They can help you build your case, provide strategic advice on gathering and presenting evidence, and guide you through the claims process.