• JC Serrano

Disabled Employees and Workplace Discrimination

Updated: Jun 5

Find Employment Lawyers for Discrimination of Disabled Employees


Employees in California are shielded from discrimination and abuse based on real or perceived disability. The Law Offices of Daniel Feder, a San Francisco disability discrimination law firm, has helped hundreds of disabled people gain access and compensation after being handled unfairly.


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Suppose you have a disability or a medical illness, and your employer refuses to make adequate accommodations or treats you unfairly because of your disability. In that case, you will be entitled to file a legal claim for compensation.

What Is Considered a Disability in California?

Disability discrimination laws in California classify "disabilities" into three categories: physical, mental, and medical conditions. However, what follows is broad. What constitutes a disability is a complex issue that non-lawyers find difficult to address.

Any physiological illness, impairment, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that affects one or more body systems and restricts a significant life function is referred to as a "physical disability."

Limiting "a major life activity" means "making the major life activity impossible to accomplish." This can include chronic or episodic illnesses (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, diabetes, heart disease, and so on) as well as physical deficiencies (broken bones, hypertension, polio, and so on) as well as pregnancy-related disabilities. Unfortunately, unless pain limits the major life activity, it does not qualify as a disability. If your condition isn't listed above, you can consult with a disability discrimination lawyer because the list is, at best incomplete.

A "mental disability" is defined as any mental or psychological disease or condition that restricts a major life function, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or particular learning disabilities.


Autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, psychiatric depression, mental illness, schizophrenia, particular learning disabilities, and other chronic or episodic conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder are also forms of mental disabilities.

Any health disorder related to or associated with a cancer diagnosis, a record or history of cancer, or genetic features is referred to as a "medical condition."


When a person has a gene or inherited trait that is linked to a statistically increased risk of developing a disease or disorder, this is referred to as genetic characteristics.

The Interactive Method and Fair Accommodations


When a request for fair accommodation is made in California, the legislation allows employers to participate in an interactive process. When it becomes obvious that an employee needs fair accommodation, the employer must participate in the interactive process.


The collaborative process starts with a conversation about an employee's disability and the accommodations the employee may need to do his or her job. If you're thinking about requesting accommodations, it's a good idea to start by consulting your employee handbook.


In most cases, organizations would have processes in place to begin the interactive phase. It's also a good idea to see a doctor so that an employee's impairment can be recorded. Seeing a doctor will also help the employee gain a better understanding of his or her condition, as well as the best accommodations to make.

Reasonable accommodations may take a variety of forms, depending on the nature of the disability, such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, hearing loss, depression, back injury, or another illness. Among the options for accommodation are:

  1. Ergonomically designed chair

  2. Keyboard with an ergonomic style

  3. Limits about how much time you can spend sitting or standing

  4. Additional time to finish assignments

  5. Phones with hearing aids

  6. Rest intervals that are longe

  7. Transferring to a different department is an option.

  8. Change to a morning or evening shift

  9. Voice recognition program

Suppose you have a disability and your employer refuses to accept your request for fair accommodations. In that case, you can consult an Employment Attorney to review your case and determine if legal action is necessary.


Understanding Discrimination And Disability Laws


Employees with disabilities are covered by both California and federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act is the name of the federal legislation (ADA). Its definition of a disability and accommodations standards extend to all employers of a certain scale. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the state's version of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It also allows eligible employers to make fair accommodations to assist disabled workers in performing their work.


It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled employee while making decisions about promotions, raises, medical leave, and termination under the ADA and the FEHA. These actions are illegal and should not be tolerated. Your employer will continue to discriminate against you if you don't speak up for your rights as a disabled individual.


These guidelines are confusing. Employers also seek out grey areas in order to protect themselves against allegations of disability discrimination. They say they were unaware of the employee's disability, that the employee's doctor had not requested changed duties, and that their conduct had nothing to do with the employee's disability. Both of these are typically ruses to rob you of your rights.

The California Fair Housing and Jobs Act (California Fair Housing and Employment Act


Discrimination and sexual abuse are banned in California under the Equal Jobs and Housing Act (FEHA). Employer retaliation and abuse are prohibited under the FEHA when an employee participates in constitutionally protected activity (including filing a discrimination or harassment lawsuit or testifying or engaging in a workplace investigation). A California employee must have a reasonable belief that the workplace harassment or discrimination he or she opposes is illegal conduct prohibited by the FEHA to qualify as legally protected actions. Furthermore, the retaliation by the employer must have a material impact on the worker's terms and conditions of employment.


Serving in the armed forces, demanding extra pay or other benefits, refusing to engage in criminal activity, or requesting leave under the California Family Rights Act or the federal Family and Medical Leave Act are all acts that are shielded from retaliation and discharge under California workplace discrimination law.

Laws on Workplace Discrimination


Although the government typically allows employers and companies to choose who they should fire and why, the employer cannot pick you out for unequal treatment, including termination, because of a disability.


In the workplace, disabled persons have a number of important legal rights. Employers, for example, are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to:

  • In certain cases, employers are prohibited from dismissing or refusing to recruit workers because of their disability.

  • Disabled persons must be provided with adequate accommodations.

  • Employers are forbidden from refusing to promote workers who have been injured or disabled.

  • In certain cases, employers are forbidden from refusing short-term disability leave and benefits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which applies to all applicants and workers, forbids discrimination against eligible persons with disabilities. The act covers disabilities that prohibit anyone from seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, studying, caring for themselves, or performing manual tasks.

Filing a Discrimination Claim in California

A discrimination lawsuit in California may be filed with either the state administrative agency, the California Department of Fair Jobs and Housing (DFEH), or the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) (EEOC). The two agencies have a "job-sharing arrangement," which means they work together to process claims. It is not appropriate to file a claim with both agencies if you inform one of them that you want them to "cross-file" the claim with the other.


Few smaller employers are protected by the California anti-discrimination act, which is not covered by federal legislation. As a consequence, if your organization has between 5 and 14 employees (or one or more for discrimination claims), you can register with the DFEH, as the EEOC only enforces federal legislation that applies to businesses with 15 or more employees (20 or more employees for age discrimination claims). You can file with either agency if your company has 15 or more employees (20 or more for age claims).


What happens after you file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?


The EEOC will give you a copy of your payment along with your charge number once it has been filed. The EEOC will also submit a note and a copy of the fee to the employer within 10 days. At that point, the EEOC can take one of the following actions:

  • Request that both you and your boss participate in a mediation program.

  • Request that your employer responds to your charge in writing and answer any questions you may have about your petition, after which your charge will be assigned to an investigator.

If you didn't file your complaint in a timely manner or if the EEOC doesn't have jurisdiction, your claim will be dismissed.


The EEOC can interview witnesses and gather documents if they decide to investigate your complaint. They will notify you and your employer of the results until the investigation is finished. If the EEOC agrees that there was no prejudice, you will obtain a "Notice of Right to Sue." This notice authorizes you to file a civil case in a court of law. If the EEOC finds that discrimination happened, they will work with the employer to negotiate a voluntary settlement.


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If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will be referred to the EEOC's legal team (or, in some cases, the Department of Justice), which will determine whether or not to file a lawsuit. The EEOC will issue you a "Notice of Right to Sue" if they decide not to file a complaint.

The length of the investigation is determined by a variety of factors, including the amount of data that must be collected and analyzed. The EEOC investigates a fee for nearly 6 months on average. Mediation will also speed up the resolution of a charge (usually in less than 3 months). Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.


In California, how do I file a lawsuit?


It might not be appropriate to employ a Employment Attorney or file a complaint if the case is effectively resolved by an administrative agency. The administrative agency may ask you to sign a release of your legal claims as part of resolving your case. If the DFEH or the EEOC is unable to settle your case, you can be forced to take your case to court.


After first heading to the EEOC, as mentioned above, a federal workplace discrimination lawsuit cannot be heard in court, and the EEOC dismisses the claim. This is referred to as "administrative solution fatigue." Similarly, you must register with the DFEH before filing a complaint based on your state discrimination charge.


Compensation (emotional distress and suffering) and punitive damages (damages that punish the employer) are not limited or capped under California statute, although they are capped under federal law. Many California employment lawyers choose to prosecute workplace discrimination lawsuits in state court under state law only because state law is more favorable than federal law in many ways, including recoverable damages, attorney's fees, burdens of evidence, and special employer defenses. Most cases, however, may be brought in state or federal court and under state or federal statute.


Before you can file a lawsuit based on your federal claim, the EEOC must first issue a document known as a "Dismissal and Notice of Rights" or "Notice of Right to Sue." You have 90 days from the day you receive the notice to file a complaint in federal or state court based on your federal discrimination allegation. When you receive the notice, make a note of the date. To continue with filing your California lawsuit, you may also submit a similar "right-to-sue" letter from DFEH. Within one year of the DFEH dismissal, you must file a complaint based on your state discrimination allegation.


The "statute of limitations" is the legal term for these time limits. If you've got one of these agency dismissal letters, you can speak with an Employment Attorney right away. If you do not file your case by the deadline, you will forfeit your right to file a discrimination lawsuit.


What services do Disability Discrimination Lawyers provide to their clients?


The media has misled the public's perception of what lawyers do in the United States. This is also valid for disability discrimination lawyers. In the disability discrimination in the workplace lawsuit, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes. So, what does your disability discrimination lawyer do in between your meetings with him?


Once you and your disability discrimination lawyers have agreed to work together and signed all of the papers, they will start gathering the records and evidence you have, such as a list of events, any text messages, emails, or other written correspondence, and your employee file (if you have it).


Your labor lawyer will then plan and send a "complaint" to the judge, which will be used to file the case with the court. This lawsuit details the basic facts of the case, including who perpetrated the wrongdoings, what the wrongdoings were, and how much damage was caused.


If the case is filed, the disability discrimination lawyers have a certain amount of time to "serve" the complaint on your boss. Now it's up to your boss to respond to the complaint with a "response." About this point, the boss will most likely attempt to get the complaint dismissed. The "discovery" process starts after your Employment Attorney defeats these "demurrers."


Your disability discrimination lawyers and the opposing attorney share different forms of facts during the discovery process. There are questions selected by your counsel (special interrogatories), questions that the state is expected to answer (form interrogatories), demands for the other party to accept those evidence, and requests for document development (such as emails, business records, etc.). Depositions are also taken during this time. Depositions are sworn interviews that your lawyer will accompany you to.


After discovery, the dis