Facing Disability Discrimination in The Workplace?
A Los Angeles Disability Discrimination Lawyer Will Advocate For Your Legal Rights
If you have a disability, and believe your employer has either failed to provide you with reasonable accommodations, or discriminated against you because of your disability, you may have a state or federal cause of action against your employer. Consider discussing your situation with a Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyer from our firm during a free consultation.
Below, we discuss disability discrimination in the workplace in California.
What Is Disability Discrimination at Work in California?
Disability discrimination is the unfavorable treatment of an employee or applicant based on his or her disability or perceived disability. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employers with five or more employees from engaging in discrimination based on an employee or applicant’s:
- Physical disability
- Mental disability
- Medical condition
- Genetic information
Under FEHA, disability discrimination is illegal in the following business practices:
- Applications, screening and interviews
- Advancement opportunities
- Training opportunities
What Is a Disability in California?
California broadly defines disabilities as conditions that limit a major life activity. These conditions may be physical or mental. Disability also encompasses other medical conditions within its scope, including HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and cancer.
According to California Government Code § 12926, physical disabilities include any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss that both:
- Affects one or more major body systems
- Limits a major life activity
Body systems include “neurological, immunological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.”
Mental disabilities include any of the following mental or psychological disorders or conditions that limit a major life activity:
- Intellectual disability
- Organic brain syndrome
- Mental illness
- Specific learning disabilities
- Any mental or psychological disorder or condition that requires special education or related services
Medical conditions include:
- Health impairments related to or associated with a cancer diagnosis or history of cancer
- Genetic characteristics known to be a cause of a disease or disorder, or associated with a risk of development of a disease or disorder
What Are Disability Discrimination Laws?
There are laws at the state and federal level that protect Los Angeles and California employees with disabilities. These laws protect any employee:
- With a disability
- With a history of impairment
- Whom the employer believes is disabled
However, you must qualify for protection under these laws. In order to qualify, you must:
- Be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation
- Have a legally defined disability
A disability discrimination attorney in Los Angeles can help you determine your essential job functions. Your attorney can also find out to what extent your employer is required to provide you with reasonable accommodations.
What Is California’s Disability Discrimination Law?
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees from discrimination based on disability. It also applies to labor organizations and employment agencies. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces FEHA.
FEHA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, as long as the accommodations do not present an undue hardship to the employer. Undue hardship is a broad term that includes significant difficulty or expense.
What Is Reasonable Accommodation for a Disabled Employee in California?
Reasonable accommodation is any change in a qualified, disabled employee’s job duties and/or work environment which would allow the employee to:
- Perform the essential functions of his or her job
- Enjoy his or her employee benefits and privileges
Examples of reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- Adjusting job functions
- Modifying work schedules
- Allowing an employee to work from home
- Job reassignment
- Leaves of absences
It is important to note that an employer cannot force an employee to take unpaid medical leave if the employee can perform his or her job functions with reasonable accommodation. Unpaid medical leave is not a proper accommodation if other options exist. Whether there are options other than a leave often requires a discussion between the employee and the employer. Only if no other accommodations are available would a leave of absence be appropriate.
Does a California Employer Have to Accommodate a Disabled Employee?
Under the FEHA, an employer has a “continuing” duty to reasonably accommodate a disabled employee unless undue hardship exists. This means that one effort to accommodate an employee does not exhaust an employer’s duty.
Reasonable accommodation involves a case-by-case assessment of an employee’s disability. An employer cannot just speculate that reasonable accommodation will result in undue hardship. The employer must gather sufficient information from the employee and qualified experts, as needed, and undergo an interactive process to assess the following:
- Essential functions of the job
- Employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation
- Potential accommodations that would allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job
You can learn more about whether your employer must accommodate your disability here.
What Is the Federal Disability Discrimination Law?
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employers with 15 or more people. It is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The ADA has a narrower view of disability than FEHA. It states that a disability must substantially limit one or more major life activities.
Employers do not fully understand the scope of disability discrimination laws and often apply the rules incorrectly. A Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyer from our firm can help you determine which California or federal laws were violated by your employer.
Can I File a Disability Discrimination Lawsuit?
If you are facing disability discrimination in the workplace, there are a few steps you can take right away. If your employer has not provided you with reasonable accommodation for your disability, follow your company’s policy about filing an internal complaint. This way there is an official report with your company, and you give your employer an opportunity to fix the issue.
If your employer does not remedy the situation, then you must file a complaint with the DFEH before you can file a civil lawsuit. You can request that the DFEH investigates your complaint or issues you an immediate right-to-sue letter. Once the DFEH issues you a right-to-sue letter, then you can file a disability discrimination lawsuit against your employer.
Speak With a Los Angeles Disability Lawyer Today About Your Situation
Do you feel that you have been a victim of disability discrimination at work? Contact Yadegar, Minoofar & Soleymani LLP today for a free consultation. We can answer disability discrimination legal questions and concerns you may have about your situation and help you understand your legal options. Call us at (310) 526-8152 or fill out our online contact form to get started.