Disability Discrimination

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their disability with respect to any terms, conditions, or privileges of employment (e.g. hiring, firing, promotions, training, etc.). These statutes also require employers to make reasonable accommodations to enable disable individuals to perform a position’s essential functions.

In order for an employee to be eligible to make a disability discrimination claim he or she must be a “qualified individual with a disability.” A “qualified individual” is a person who is able to perform the essential functions of their job, with or without reasonable accommodations by their employer. This means, for example, a cashier who suffers from pregnancy-related back pain and is denied a stool to perform her work duties would be eligible to make a disability discrimination claim because she is a “qualified individual.”

In addition, an employee must either suffer from a disability or suffer an adverse employment action due to being perceived as disabled. Under FEHA an individual has a “disability” if he or she (1) has a physical or mental condition that limits a major life activity; (2) has a record of this impairment; or (3) is regarded or treated as having this impairment. A few examples of a “disability” include mobility impairments, lifting restrictions, bipolar disorder, anxiety, diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

Employers also must make reasonable accommodations to enable an employee or job applicant with a known disability to perform a position’s essential functions, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. This means an employer must be willing to consider changing its ordinary work rules, facilities, terms, and conditions in order to enable disabled individuals to work. Failing to provide reasonable accommodations or refusing to hire a disabled person in order to avoid having to provide reasonable accommodations constitutes discrimination under both federal and state law.

If your employer has refused to accommodate your disability or is treating you differently because of your disability, we can help. Whether you have been terminated, forced to take a leave, or you are worried that your job is making your disability worse, you should contact our office to discuss possible legal remedies.