Workplace Disability Discrimination in California

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Disability discrimination is common in California and across the United States. Despite state and federal laws barring disability discrimination, employers still wrongfully terminate, demote and mistreat disabled workers. Disabled jobseekers may also experience discrimination. It is important to understand that disabled workers and job seekers affected by discrimination may have legal options.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits workplace discrimination against workers with disabilities. However, the ADA is narrower in scope in what it can accomplish compared to California’s law. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides disabled workers and job seekers with legal protections from workplace discrimination. You may be able to file a report with state or federal agencies if your employer targeted you with discrimination.

The Law Office of Christopher Baudino provides disabled workers with legal representation when they are unfairly harmed by workplace discrimination. If you are a victim of workplace disability discrimination, then California employment lawyer Christopher Baudino can help you determine whether you have legal options to hold your employer accountable.

What is a Disability?

Two laws that protect disabled workers and job seekers are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). However, the protections these laws provide have some differences. For instance, the ADA defines a disability as a condition that causes “substantial limitations” for one or more life activities.

FEHA defines a disability as a physical or mental limitation that limits a major life activity. Conditions covered under FEHA could include HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and epilepsy. Mental disorders covered by FEHA could include bipolar disorder, clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorders.

Physical conditions covered by the law may be temporary and permanent. Diabetes, impaired hearing and impaired eyesight are examples of physical conditions that may be covered by FEHA. Fortunately, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has a very broad term of what constitutes a disability.

Keep in mind, these laws do not apply to all employers. You should speak with an employment law attorney if you are unsure about your legal protections under either law.

What is Disability Discrimination in California?

Workplace disability discrimination is not always apparent. In most cases, discrimination takes place out of sight and behind closed doors. However, you may notice certain red flags that include:

  • Reduced hours or pay without cause
  • Being excluded from workplace meetings or events
  • Changes in job functions or workloads
  • Failure to provide reasonable accommodations for a disability
  • Improper questions about your disability during job interviews

If you are not sure whether what you are experiencing constitutes disability discrimination, then you should speak with a California employment lawyer.

Employers have certain legal obligations under the ADA and FEHA, such as providing reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Reasonable accommodations help disabled employees perform essential job functions, but they cannot impose an undue hardship on employers.

Examples of reasonable accommodations can include modified work schedules, assistive equipment or modifying general work policies for disabled employees. Employers must make timely efforts to communicate with disabled employees who request reasonable accommodations. This process helps determine whether the accommodation would allow a disabled worker to perform his or her job duties.

Whether the accommodation would impose undue hardship depends on the circumstances. Certain factors must be present before an employer can claim a reasonable accommodation imposes undue hardship. If you are unsure about how to request a reasonable accommodation or if you feel an employer illegally denied a reasonable accommodation, then you should speak with a California employment lawyer.

Legal Options for Disability Discrimination

You could file a discrimination claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. This is especially true in cases that involve retaliation, such as termination or demotion for discriminatory reasons.

You should consider speaking with an employment law attorney before beginning this process. An attorney can help you determine if discrimination may be occurring, and what evidence you could seek to boost the validity of your claim.

About Our Walnut Creek Employment Law Firm

The Law Office of Christopher Baudino can help you determine if you have legal options to file a disability discrimination claim. Our Walnut Creek employment law firm has experience helping workers affected by illegal workplace discrimination. You may contact us for a consultation by using our online contact form.