What Is Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination occurs when an employee with a mental or physical disability is treated differently and/or terminated because of the disability. Typically disability discrimination occurs shortly after an employee reports a medical condition and/or requests reasonable accommodations for the medical condition to his/her employer. When the employer finds out about the medical condition and/or request for reasonable accommodations, the discriminatory employer will typically contrive a false and/or pretextual reason for terminating the employee. This is illegal.
Is My Medical Condition A “Disability” Protected By California Law?
A physical disability covered by California law must meet two requirements. First, the physical disability must be a medical condition that affects one of the following body systems: the neurological, immunological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, or endocrine. Second, the physical disability must limit an individual's ability to participate in major life activities, which includes physical, mental and social activities and working.
A mental disability covered by California law includes any mental or psychological disorder that limits a major life activity. Some specific mental disabilities covered by California law include clinical depression, bipolar disorder, emotional or mental illness, intellectual or cognitive disability, organic brain syndrome, specific learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Also, keep in mind that California law prohibits employers from discriminating on the perception that an employee has a disability, even if he or she is not disabled.
Does My Employer Have A Duty To Accommodate The Work Restrictions Given To Me By Doctor?
California law requires employers to make reasonable accommodation for the known disabilities of employees to enable them to perform the job’s essential functions, unless doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer's business. Employers who are aware of the employee's disability have a duty to make reasonable accommodations for the disability. Even if the employee has not requested any accommodation, the employer has a duty to make reasonable accommodations as long as the employer knows about the disability. Types of reasonable accommodations include job restructuring, reassignment to a vacant position, part-time or modified work schedules, and acquisition or modification of equipment or devices.
What Should I Do If I’m The Victim of Disability Discrimination?
If you believe you are the victim of disability discrimination, you should immediately contact an experienced employment attorney. If you have an actionable claim for disability discrimination, your attorney will file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. This is the first step in initiating a lawsuit for disability discrimination.
Brock & Gonzales specialize in disability discrimination cases. If you would like to discuss your potential claims, please do not hesitate to contact our office to set up a free consultation.