Disability Discrimination

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The attorneys at Callanan, Rogers & Dzida, LLP have years of experience dealing with the laws of disability discrimination, and have successfully represented numerous employees in disability discrimination.

California DisabilityHave you been a victim of discrimination in the workplace? The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA“) and the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA“) serve to protect employees with both physical and mental disabilities against discrimination. If you have a disability discrimination claim, you may be able to recover damages for lost wages, benefits,  emotional distress and even punitive damages in some cases. The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to allow disabled people to perform a job’s essential functions.

What is Disability Discrimination?

It is unlawful to discriminate against qualified persons with disabilities in almost all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, job applications, interviews, promotions, compensation, benefits, training, as well as other terms of employment. The law also protects individuals who are perceived to have either a physical or mental disability but who are not in fact disabled.

What Qualifies as a Disability?

California’s FEHA provides more job protection to disabled employees than the ADA by broadly defining a qualified disability. Under the FEHA, a covered disability is any physical or mental impairment that limits (makes more difficult) one or more major life activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, working, hearing or speaking. Some types of physical and mental disabilities which may be protected include:

  • Quadriplegia, paralysis, spinal disorders and other mobility impairments
  • Blindness, deafness and other vision or hearing impairments
  • Cognitive and learning disabilities
  • Epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses
  • HIV, AIDs and other serious health conditions
  • Psychiatric conditions, including depression, severe anxiety, post traumatic stress, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and various mental illnesses

An Employer’s Duty to Accommodate Disabled Employees in California

An employer is required to make reasonable accommodations to assist an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job – unless the employer can show that doing so would create an undue hardship (for example it involves significant cost).
A reasonable accommodation might involve any of the following:

  • Leave time for a reasonable time and of definite duration if needed to cope with the disability
  • adjusted work schedules to accommodate therapy sessions or medical appointments
  • purchasing new computer aides or equipment such as special chairs or building ramps or wider doors to make them wheel chair accessible

Elements of a Claim for Disability Discrimination

There are basic elements of a claim for disability discrimination in California are:

  • the employee suffers from a disability
  • the employee was discriminated against because of the disability
  • the employee is capable of performing the essential functions of a job with (or without) reasonable accommodation

The law also protects individuals who are perceived to have either a physical or mental disability but who are not in fact disabled.

If you suspect that you have been the victim of discrimination, have been wrongfully terminated or been denied accommodation as a result of a disability, you should contact us so we can evaluate your matter and advise you of your rights.