It is enough that your medical condition inflicts stress, frustration and pain. But what happens when your employer in California penalizes you because of your condition? You should not have to deal with the fear of job loss or demotion.

There are laws to protect you from medical discrimination, both federal and state. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protects applicants and employees from discrimination due to a medical condition.

Definition of medical condition

The FEHA defines medical condition as the following:

  1. Any diagnosis, record or history of cancer
  2. Genetic characteristics which are conditions indicative of a high risk of diseases such as cancer or heart disease
  3. Mental disabilities such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, anxiety disorder or schizophrenia
  4. Physical disabilities that may consist of impaired eyesight, hearing or speech

Reasonable accommodation

Your employer must give you reasonable accommodation if you have a medical condition or if you have a doctor’s note stating you cannot perform your usual duties.

Reasonable accommodation can include:

  • Reassignment to another position
  • Altering equipment
  • Adjusting work policies
  • Allowing service dogs
  • Changing your work schedule

Giving an employee ample time to recover and heal with a leave of absence is a reasonable accommodation.

Complaints through the DFEH

The DFEH is California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. You will need to file a complaint with them if you believe your employer is denying you reasonable accommodation. You must contact the DFEH within one year of the discrimination act.

Filling out an intake form is the first step of the complaint process. It is not a filed complaint. There is a section for you to describe the reasons for discrimination. The DFEH will determine if there is a basis for the claim and a representative from the department may contact you to begin an investigation.

The investigator will determine if your employer violated California law. If you prefer not to go through the DFEH complaint process, you can file a Right-To-Sue notice and contact an attorney for help.