It is unlawful to discriminate against qualified persons with disabilities in almost all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, job applications, interviews, promotions, compensation, benefits, training, as well as other terms of employment. The law also protects individuals who are perceived to have either a physical or mental disability but who are not in fact disabled. This is referred to as disability discrimination based on a perceived disability.
Both the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protect qualified people with disabilities against discrimination. If you have a disability discrimination claim, you may be able to recover damages. Both the Federal ADA and California’s FEHA require employers to make reasonable accommodations to allow disabled people to perform a job’s essential functions.
A disability under the ADA or FEHA is generally a condition which limits a person’s ability to engage in major life activities such as walking, working, seeing, speaking, breathing or taking care of one’s self. It can be mental condition, such as mental illness, depression, a learning disability or a developmental disorder, or a physical condition such as a paralysis or other mobility problems, vision or hearing problems, illness such as diabetes, heart disease or HIV or AIDS.
An employer is required to make reasonable accommodations to allow an employee with a disability to perform a position’s essential functions – unless the employer can show that doing so would create an undue hardship. This is referred to as engaging in the “interactive process.” A reasonable accommodation might involve any of the following:
- job restructuring, such as having another employee carry heavy items for a worker with back pain
- adjusted work schedules to accommodate therapy sessions or medical appointments
- purchasing new equipment, such as special chairs
- building ramps or wider doors to make them wheel chair accessible
Furthermore, under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, employers are also required to explore accommodation option for disabled employees in good faith – they must be looking out for the best interests of the employee so that they can effectively perform their job. Failure to engage in these activities and failing to communicate with the employee may be considered failing to engage in the interactive process and an employer may be liable for damages suffered by an employee.
If you feel you have been the victim of disability discrimination, or been denied accommodation as a result of a disability, or been treated unfairly by your employer as a result of your disability, contact the Stanley C. Franklin law firm where we can evaluate your claim and advise you of your rights.