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A Guide To Workplace Disability Discrimination in California

Updated: Dec 1, 2022


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


Discrimination against disabled workers in California is widespread. This guide provides the employee with a basic knowledge of their legal rights and a roadmap of what to do if they feel they are being discriminated against at work because of their 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 a California Employment Disability Lawyer.


disability discrimination in the workplace

California laws make it illegal for companies to fire disabled employees if they can perform their job. In addition, 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 California Employment Disability 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 Is Considered As Employee Disability Discrimination Under California Law?


California's disability discrimination laws define "disabilities" into three categories: physical disability, mental disability, and medical conditions. It is best to speak to the best employment attorney in California with experience in disability discrimination because what constitutes a disability is sometimes complicated to define for non-lawyers.


Physical disability: any physical limitations or disabilities that inhibit the physical function of one or more limbs of a certain person. It can be temporary or permanent. People can develop physical disabilities from an inheritance, injury, illness, accident, or as a medical condition's side effect.


Ment"l 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 associated with a statistically increased risk of developing a disease or condition.


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What are Reasonable Accommodations?


Reasonable Accommodation (RA) is a logical adjustment made to a job and/or the work environment that enables a qualified disabled person to perform the essential functions of that position. The only exception to this rule is if the accommodation will result in undue hardship to the business operation.


The main point about "reasonable accommodation" is that the employee must request it. If you do not request the accommodation, the company will not be liable for not providing it to you. It is also illegal for an employer in California to retaliate against an employee for requesting reasonable accommodations.


The Interactive Process


Employers in California must also work with disabled employees to find reasonable accommodation. This is known as the "interactive process" and can be found in California Government Code 12940(n).


It is illegal for the employer to "fail to engage promptly, in good faith, interactive process with the employee to determine effective reasonable accommodations, if any, in response to a request for reasonable accommodation by an employee with a known physical or mental disability or known medical condition.

After your California Employment Disability Lawyer and you have decided on a plan of action, they will begin to collect the documents and evidence you have, including a timeline of events, any SMS messages, emails, or documented interactions, and your employee file if it's available.


At that point, your California Employment Disability Lawyer will file your lawsuit with the court by creating and submitting a "complaint." This complaint contains some basic facts of the case, describing who was negligent, the facts surrounding your claim, and the outcome.


Once the complaint has been filed, your disability discrimination attorney has a time limit to "serve" your employer with the complaint. Now, your employer has to respond to the complaint. Your employer will probably try to get the case thrown out by refusing responsibility; the discovery process starts.


The discovery process is when your disability discrimination attorney and the opposing counsel exchange evidence. Your attorneys choose questions, questions required to be answered by the state (form interrogatories), a request by the attorneys for the other party to admit certain facts, and requests for the production of supporting documentation.


This is also when depositions are taken, which are interviews under oath, and your attorney will accompany you.


After discovery, your disability discrimination attorney will have a good feeling about where your case stands; this is when most settlements occur. Both attorneys will be involved in employment mediation and mandatory settlement conferences with a judge to see if a pre-trial resolution is feasible. If this fails, your case will go to trial.


How Much Is Your Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Worth?


Your California Employment Disability Lawyer will be able to help you get compensated for the wages that you would have made if you had not been subjected to disability discrimination. Another form of compensation that you may be able to recover from your disability discrimination in the workplace case is pain and suffering.


The Statute of Limitations in Disability Discrimination


You have one year from the termination date to acquire a right-to-sue letter.


Usually, your attorney will get this for you, but if you already have one, let your attorney know as soon as possible. Upon receiving a right-to-sue letter, you have one year to file your case in court. These timelines are different for public entities. In those cases, the statute of limitations maybe six months.


1000Attorneys.com is a California Bar Association-Certified Lawyer Referral Service that can refer you to a prescreened California Employment Disability Lawyer best fit to handle your claims. Contact us on our 24/7 lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999 or complete our inquiry submission form for a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.


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