A Guide For California Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

Updated: Apr 12

Tips from the Best Discrimination Lawyers in California


Workplace disability discrimination occurs when a company fires or demotes an employee because of his or her disability, even when the employee can do the job like any other employee. It can also occur when an employee requests a reasonable accommodation so that they can do the job properly and the request is denied.


Discrimination against disabled workers in California is very common. This guide provides you, the employee, with a basic knowledge of your legal rights, and gives you a roadmap of what to do if you feel you are being discriminated against at your job because of your disability.


Each disability claim is different so the information on this page should not be a substitute for discussing your case in more detail with an Employment Lawyer in Los Angeles or reaching out to Employment Law Firms in California.


disability discrimination in the workplace

California laws make it illegal for companies to fire disabled employees if they are able to do perform their job. Companies are not allowed to terminate a disabled employee even if they are unable to do the essential functions of their job but could if provided with reasonable accommodations.


Employment discrimination laws against disabled employees can be found in the California Fair Employment & Housing Act (“FEHA”) § 12940. Your Los Angeles Employment Lawyer will be able to assess your case and determine what laws were violated in your case.


FEHA offers more protection to California’s employees than the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). It offers a wider protection and it also applies to companies with less employees. Also, FEHA is stronger than Title VII, which caps employee’s damages.

California’s laws are employee friendly and offer broader protection to employees who experience disability discrimination in the workplace.


What's Considered a Disability Under California Law?


California’s disability discrimination laws define “disabilities” into three categories: physical disability, mental disability, and medical conditions. It's important to speak to a Los Angeles Employment Attorney with experience in disability discrimination because what constitutes a disability is sometimes complicated and difficult to define for non-lawyers.


Physical disability: any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that” affects one or more body systems and limits a major life activity. Limiting “a major life activity” means that it “makes the achievement of the major life activity difficult.”


Mental disability: any mental or psychological disorder or condition, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities, that limits a major life activity.


Medical condition: any health impairment related to or associated with a diagnosis of cancer or a record or history of cancer, or genetic characteristics.


Genetic characteristics are when an individual has a gene or inherited characteristic that is associated with a statistically increased risk of the development of a disease or condition.


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What are Reasonable Accommodations?


It is illegal for employers in California “to refuse to make reasonable accommodation for the known disability of an employee.” The only exception to this rule is if the accommodation will result in undue hardship to the business’ operation.