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Can You Be Fired For Having A Disability In California?

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Disability Discrimination And Employment Law In California

Under California Employment Laws, people with disabilities are listed as a protected group. Employers cannot refuse to employ workers or fire current employees simply because of the employee's or potential employee's disability due to this law. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Failure to comply with these protection laws may result in legal consequences.

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Disabilities as Defined by California Law

If you have a disability that impairs one or more major life activities, you are considered disabled in California. Physical or mental disabilities include developmental flaws, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental disabilities, and specific learning disabilities. They can be overt, such as using a wheelchair, using a cane, being disfigured, or having a bodily part amputated, or subtle, such as heart attacks, respiratory issues, depression, anxiety, stomach problems, sleep apnea, and so on.

An impairment or weakness must be perceived as long-term or permanent to be deemed a debilitating disorder. However, in the case of a temporary disability, it may be covered by the California Family Rights Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act.

If your rights have been violated, you should consult with a pre-screened California Disability Lawyer for your workplace claims.

What Are Your Employment Rights?

A disabled person otherwise qualified (has the necessary education, training, or other credentials) to perform the essential work functions, with or without accommodations, shall be treated equally with all other candidates and/or employees.

Essential job functions are those that are required by the job. Critical job tasks for a firefighter, for example, include the ability to sprint, elevate, and hold. Pilots, on the other hand, require vision as a valuable job requirement. A person with a disability who cannot do these responsibilities is not otherwise eligible.

Discrimination Against Disabled People in California

Disabled workers are protected from job discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), implemented in 1974 in California. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal equivalent. "Disability," according to the ADA, is defined as a "physical or mental defect that severely limits one or more important living activities."

The FEHA, on the other hand, has a broader and more flexible definition, making filing a lawsuit easier. Under this law, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that limits a primary life function, such as working. The FEHA will classify stress, anxiety, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, depression, frequent urination, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course, more serious medical conditions like lupus, cancer, and multiple sclerosis are protected.

If you need more details specific to your case, contact an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles to analyze and guide the progress of your case.

Disabled Employees Are Entitled To Accommodations In California

A tool, system, equipment, help, and/or adjustment of a non-essential job function that allows or facilitates the performance of essential job tasks by a disabled individual is referred to as an accommodation.

For the visually impaired, larger screen displays or electronic or manual readers, TTD aids for the deaf, sign language interpreters, modifications to facilities and workstations for wheelchair access, flexible schedules, telecommuting arrangements, use of animal assistants, consolidation of non-essential job tasks, and so on are some examples.

Do I Have To Disclose My Disability To My Employer?

In most cases, your employer cannot require you to disclose your disability status. However, employers can require information about your disability for the purposes of implementing reasonable accommodations.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations?

Reasonable accommodations are improvements or changes to a job or workplace that allow an employee or job applicant to effectively fulfill the essential functions. Appropriate accommodations have no impact on the job's core duties.

If a specific accommodation request is reasonable, it is determined by the situation and type of job. However, the accommodation should not be excessively costly or inconvenient for the business (undue hardship).

Here are a few instances of possible fair accommodations:

  • Changes or addition of workplace amenities. An employee who uses a wheelchair might need a higher workstation or a different travel path. Employees with PTSD may want separators or a more private workstation to reduce distractions.

  • Equipment or tools. Carpal tunnel syndrome may need a customized keyboard, phone headset, or speech recognition software for a worker. A deaf employee may require a text pager. Headphones may be needed for an employee who hears conversations or is easily distracted.

  • Scheduling adjustments. An employee who suffers from weariness or sleeps disturbance due to a medical condition may benefit from a part-time schedule.

  • Medication or therapy that requires time away from work. An employee receiving treatment may need to take time off work regularly to attend appointments.

  • Leave of absence. A disabled employee may require a leave of absence for medical treatments or operations and recover from a disability-related sickness.

  • Adjusting work responsibilities. An employee with a lifting restriction may need to delegate a role if it is not critical to the job.

  • Trainings. Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another handicap that prevents them from concentrating or learning may require additional or advanced training to master the job.

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  • Adjusting supervision and management methods. A learning-disabled employee can ask for a change in communication methods, such as more face-to-face meetings or email reminders. An employee with a mental health issue may need different supervisory tactics, such as constructive and negative feedback, more frequent performance appraisals, and more extensive instruction or work assignments.

  • Coaches. A visually impaired employee can request that a job coach be brought to the job site to learn how to navigate the workplace.

  • Policy change. An employee with insulin-dependent diabetes may require additional breaks or permission to eat during the day to test blood sugar or give insulin.

  • Reassigning to a different location. Employees who cannot execute the essential job tasks of their current post may request a transfer to an available position for which they are qualified.

If an employer refuses to give you accommodations, it might affect your overall performance at work. If the discrimination persists, you should contact a prescreened California Disability Lawyer.

Accommodations for Short-Term Disability

Temporary work accommodations allow injured or sick workers to continue working while recovering by providing a different or alternative work assignment for a set length of time, usually up to 90 days, and are evaluated individually. A Short Term Disability Lawyer in California knows their way around getting the benefits you need to be able to do your job while you recover,

Accommodations for Long-Term/Permanent Disability

Employees with disabilities that persist for six months or more are given ongoing/permanent accommodations to fulfill the essential responsibilities of their jobs. If you're having issues with your benefits and accommodations, contact a long term disability lawyer in California ASAP.

What Are The Obligations of an Employer?

Employers must make reasonable accommodations. However, they are not compelled to provide an employee's preferred accommodations; instead, they must provide accommodations that do not cause an undue financial or operational burden on the employer.

The financial ability of the employer and the expense, difficulty, and disturbance connected with the accommodation all play a role in assessing whether or not the accommodation is appropriate.

When an employer learns about an employee's impairment and/or any occupational challenges related to the disability, the law requires that the employer and the employee engage in a good-faith interactive method to discuss feasible adjustments. An employer who refuses to engage in a good-faith interactive approach is breaking the law and may be liable for damages.

As a result, employees must engage in the good faith accommodation phase. As part of the fair accommodation procedure, an employer may require medical certification of the employee's condition and any attempts to consult with the employee's medical professionals to determine what would be a suitable accommodation. Employees who decline to participate in a good-faith interactive method and are fired as a result have no legal recourse.

The courts investigate who is to blame if there is a breakdown in the interactive phase that ends in discharge or demotion. As a result, it's critical to document your participation in every situation when you're involved in an accommodation phase. A copy of this documentation should be given to your manager or HR.

Employers cannot discriminate against current or potential employees because of a disability. A pre-employment questionnaire does not include a question concerning your impairment. You'll be asked if you require special accommodations if you're offered a position.

An employer can refuse to hire you or fire you if your illness creates a reasonable health danger to others. For example, it has been considered legal to prohibit epileptics who suffer seizures from operating buses, trains, and other vehicles because of actual health risks. On the other hand, these hazards must be genuine, not just hypothetical.

That said, if your employer fails to hold up their responsibility, you have the right to hire a Disability Lawyer in California to help you seek accountability.

How To Request Accommodations In California?

When you inform your boss you're disabled; you have a reasonable expectation that they will keep your medical data private and only discuss them with those who need to work with you in good faith or need accommodation.

It is prohibited to retaliate against a worker who requests reasonable accommodations. Put your feelings in writing and file a report with your manager and/or human resources if you think you have been retaliated against.

To be covered under the ADA/FEHA, you must notify your condition to at least one person who serves the employer, such as a supervisor or human resource person. Although you are not needed to divulge every detail about your health, you must offer enough information to show that you have a "disability" and require accommodations under the law. To be safe, use language such as "disability," "impairment," "limited," "important life events," and "accommodation."

The disclosure of a disability to a potential employer is a personal choice. Employees who are considering making such disclosure should consider the following costs and benefits:

  1. You'll need a location to stay to complete the task.

  2. to avoid being punished or terminated (if you are not accommodated)

  3. To protect one's health, one must make accommodations.

  4. There's a chance of stigma and abuse.

  5. There's a chance you'll lose your job or be passed over for a promotion.

  6. The risk of losing one's right to privacy.

  7. Possibility of a more efficient and helpful work environment.

Can Your Boss Ask About Your Disability?

Employers are forbidden from asking about your health or requiring a medical examination unless the questions or inquiries are related to your job and are compatible with business needs. Therefore, even if you appear unwell or ill, an employer cannot ask medical questions unless there is a job-related justification.

Under the following circumstances, specific medical studies may be justified. Otherwise, it's unlikely that your boss will have access to your medical records:

  1. If an employee requires accommodation, but the impairment or need is not immediately apparent, the employer may obtain reasonable medical evidence demonstrating the employee's right to accommodation. Health records must be kept in a separate, confidential medical file.

  2. If an employer has a reasonable belief or suspicion that a disability may hinder an employee's ability to execute the job's essential tasks, they can ask limited medical inquiries or require a medical examination.

  3. If an employer has a reasonable belief or suspicion that an employee's impairment poses direct harm to the health or safety of others. In that circumstances, the employer can ask specific medical questions or require a medical examination.

  4. To evaluate its workers' compensation benefits, an employer might ask limited medical questions or request a medical examination if an employee suffers a work-related injury. Even if the request for medical information or documentation is made for a professional reason, it must be reasonable and pertinent to the case. In addition, no request should be made that goes beyond the employer's requirement to assess the disability's impact. Most importantly, all medical records collected by the employer must be kept private and distinct from the employee's regular file.

Alcoholism and Opioid Addiction and Disability Law

Alcoholism and opioid abuse are both diseases that are legally recognized. However, using alcohol or narcotics at work, such as being drunk or high on drugs, missing work, or arriving late due to a hangover or binge, is not an acceptable accommodation and can result