How Does The FEHA Protect You If You Are Disabled And Discriminated Against At Your Job?
Being disabled does not mean that you cannot work, have a satisfying career, or be a productive employee that your employer will value. Fortunately, disabled workers are protected from being discriminated against due to their disability under the Americans
With Disabilities Act (ADA) and
How Does the FEHA Protect You?
Employers with five or more employees are required to comply with the FEHA. It provides greater rights than the ADA, and a covered employee is protected from discrimination in all aspects of his employment. This includes hiring, salary, benefits, promotions, work conditions, training, and bonuses.
A person is considered disabled under the Act if he has a physical or mental impairment that limits a major life activity. This offers California residents more protection than the ADA, which requires that the impairment substantially impair a major life activity—much more difficult to prove. The FEHA applies if:
- An employee has a physical or mental disability that limits a major life activity
- An employee has a history of impairment, which means he was disabled in the past
- An employee who the employer believes is disabled even if the employer is wrong about the disability
The employee’s disability must limit a major life activity to be covered under the Act. This means that the disability must make achieving the activity more difficult. The following are considered major life activities:
- Hearing and seeing
- Thinking, concentrating, and speaking
- Caring for oneself
- Performing manual tasks
The FEHA’s coverage of disabilities is also very broad. For example, people with the following physical or mental disabilities would be protected under the law:
- Blindness and deafness
- HIV and Aids
- Depression and major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Disorders where the person experiences panic, anxiety, and stress
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Traumatic brain injury
A person must be a qualified person to be covered under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. This means that he is able to perform the essential duties of the job—with or without reasonable accommodations by the employer. Only essential duties that are fundamental to the position are covered.
What Compensation Are You Entitled to Under the FEHA?
Remedies under the law include injunctive relief to stop the discriminatory practices and compensation to the victim of the discrimination. You could obtain the following:
- Injunctive relief, such as hiring, promotion, and reinstatement
- Reasonable accommodations, such as providing a modification of facilities or equipment, a modified work schedule, or time off for medical treatment or therapy, as long as it does not cause the employer undue hardship
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Compensatory damages for your emotional distress
- Punitive damages to punish your employer
- Reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs
Why the FEHA Gives You More Protections Than the ADA
While the ADA also protects people with disabilities from employment discrimination, the law’s protections are more restrictive than the FEHA. Key differences in the laws include:
- Employers must employ 15 or more employees to be covered under the ADA.
- The ADA requires that the disability substantially impair a major life activity.
- Compensatory and punitive damages are capped at a certain amount depending on the number of employees the employer employs. The cap ranges from $50,000 to $300,000.
What Should You Do If You Believe Your Employer Violated the FEHA and ADA?
If you believe you were discriminated against based on your disability, your first step should be to contact an experienced employment litigation attorney who can help you file an administrative complaint with the appropriate federal and state agencies and negotiate a settlement with your employer. Start an online chat or call the Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams today at 949-679-9909 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.