If you have a disability are the victim of workplace disability discrimination, you should know that California federal employment laws offer powerful protections. It is unlawful to treat a person with a disability or perceived disability differently than other employees or job applicants. Employers are also required to provide “reasonable accommodations” to enable disabled employees to perform their job responsibilities and must communicate with the employee to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate. This is called the “interactive process.”
What Is Workplace Disability Discrimination?
Disability discrimination in the workplace happens whenever an employer treats an employee with an actual disability differently from employees who are not disabled in a way that affects conditions of employment. Disability discrimination also occurs when the employer perceives a non-disabled employee as disabled and treats him or her differently. Examples include, termination of employment, failure to hire, failure to promote, etc.
Disability discrimination also occurs when an employer fails to provide an accommodation that would enable the employee to perform his or her job despite the disability, so long as the accommodation is “reasonable.” Reasonable accommodations come in many forms, and can include special equipment, software, flexible hours, working from home, assistance to accommodate lifting restrictions, etc.
What Is a Disability Under the Law?
Under California law, a disability is anything that makes it more difficult to perform a major life activity. This could be practically anything, including sitting, standing, walking, bending, lifting heavy objects, driving long distances, difficulty typing on a computer, etc. A disability can be the result of an injury or illness and can be physical or mental.
Disabilities can be permanent or temporary. Whether a disability is life-long, or only temporary, the rules are the same. It is unlawful for an employer to treat the disabled person less favorably than other employees because of the disability.
In order for a disability discrimination claim to exist, the employee must be actually disabled or perceived to be disabled and must be qualified for the job.
What Does Workplace Disability Discrimination Look Like?
Disability discrimination takes many forms. Often victims of discrimination are terminated because employers do not want to undertake the trouble and expense of accommodating the employee. Other times, employers refuse to provide an accommodation to enable the employee to continue working even though doing so would be reasonable under the circumstances. Perhaps the most common type of discrimination occurs when an employee is fired while on medical leave or just after returning to work. Common instances of discrimination include:
- Termination because of the disability
- Termination during or after disability or medical leave
- Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation
- Failure to hire
- Failure to allow an employee to take additional medical leave
What Can a California Employment Lawyer Do for Me?
If your employer discriminates against you based on a disability, you may be entitled to recover damages, including lost past and future wages or salary, damages for emotional pain and suffering, together with the cost of hiring an attorney. In some cases, you may also be able to recover punitive damages.
Most employment lawyers accept disability discrimination cases on a “contingency” basis, meaning that you pay nothing until the case is resolved in your favor.
Contact an Expert Orange County Employment Lawyer
If you believe you are the victim of workplace disability discrimination, you must take action quickly, because strict time limits apply and you could lose your claim. The Orange County based Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams is an elite employment law firm that represents employees in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage & hour and other employment matters. Contact us today at 949-679-9909 or use the contact form on this page, and we will respond promptly.