According to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), your employer cannot discriminate against, harass, or retaliate against you due to a disability. The FEHA also requires your employer to provide you with reasonable accommodations you need to do your job.
If you believe your employer has denied you reasonable accommodations or discriminated against you because of your disability, you may be entitled to financial compensation and other remedies.
A California disability discrimination and accommodation lawyer from Domb & Rauchwerger can assess your situation and determine if you’re eligible to take legal action. Contact our team today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights as a disabled worker.
What Qualifies As a Disability?
Under the FEHA, the term “disability” is broadly defined and can mean either a mental disability, physical disability, or medical condition that limits your ability to engage in a major life activity. California law protects your right to reasonable accommodations and a discrimination-free workplace if your type of disability falls under one of the following categories:
According to Government Code section 12926(m)(1), a physical disability limits a major life activity due to its impact on one or more of the following parts of the body:
- Brain or nerves
- Speech organs
- Immune system
- Musculoskeletal system
- Special sense organs
- Respiratory, cardiovascular, or digestive systems
- Reproductive or genitourinary systems
- Hemic, lymphatic, or endocrine systems
Any physical issue affecting a major life activity will likely be considered a disability under the law. While the condition’s interference with a major life activity does not need to be substantial, it does need to make it difficult to achieve a major life activity (including physical, mental, and social activities).
An example of a physical disability would be having a broken foot, because it would limit a person’s ability to engage in a major life activity, such as walking, working, or interacting with family.
The types of reasonable accommodations that an employer may be required to provide for an employee with a broken foot could include giving the employee a preferential parking spot, excusing the employee from having to lift items that weigh more than 10 pounds, or even a temporary leave of absence.
Under Government Code section 12926(j)(1), a mental disability is any mental or psychological disorder that limits a major life activity. Examples of qualifying mental impairments include:
- Intellectual disability
- Organic brain syndrome
- Emotional or mental illness
- Specific learning or cognitive disabilities that limit a major life activity
While “medical condition” might seem broad, it is narrowly construed for purposes of FEHA. It includes either cancer or a genetic characteristic associated with developing a disease or disorder.
If you believe you’ve been denied appropriate accommodations for your condition or discriminated against due to a physical, mental, or medical condition, our California disability discrimination and accommodation attorneys may be able to help you seek remedies.
For a free legal consultation with a disability discrimination accommodation lawyer serving California, call 213-537-9225
Forms of Disability Discrimination that Are Prohibited in the Workplace
California Law provides specific workplace protections for employees with disabilities. If you have a record or history of one of the types of disabilities mentioned above, it’s against the law for your employer to:
Take an Adverse Action Against You
The FEHA prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against you on the basis of a disability. Speak to a California disability discrimination attorney to discuss your legal rights if you believe your employer has taken one of the following adverse actions against you because of your physical, mental, or medical condition:
- Gave you a negative performance review
- Took away some of your responsibilities
- Reduced your pay
- Demoted or suspended you
- Fired you
Fail to Provide You With Reasonable Accommodations
As a worker with a disability, the FEHA requires your employer to provide you with reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform the “essential functions” of your job. According to Government Code section 12926(p), reasonable accommodations may include:
- Making your workspace accessible and useable
- Offering you a part-time or modified work schedule
- Reassigning you to a vacant position
- Providing equipment or devices modified for your use
- Modifying examinations, training materials, or policies
- Providing qualified readers or interpreter
- Allowing you to bring an assistive animal to the workplace
- Changing how an essential function of your job is performed
- Modifying supervisory methods
- Providing you with additional training
- Permitting you to work from home
- Providing paid or unpaid leave for treatment and recovery
This list is not exhaustive and the accommodations you’re legally entitled to will depend on your unique condition. If you’re unsure whether you’re being denied a reasonable accommodation that you are entitled to under the FEHA, our California disability discrimination and accommodation lawyers can advise you on the matter.
California Disability Discrimination Accommodation Lawyer Near Me 213-537-9225
Defining an Essential Job Function
If you have a disability as discussed above, your employer is required to provide you with reasonable accommodations to help you perform your essential job functions.
To have grounds for a claim against your employer for failure to provide reasonable accommodations, you’ll have to show that the accommodations you’ve been denied have stopped you from performing an essential job function, but what exactly is an essential job function?
The short answer is that it’s a fundamental requirement of a job as opposed to a marginal requirement of the position. More specifically, a particular job duty may be considered an essential function if:
- You spend a significant amount of the workday on the task
- The task is the main purpose of your job
- The task is listed as an essential function in your job description
- Other employees in the same position perform the task
In some situations, it’s clear what is an essential job function and what’s not. That said, sometimes it might not be obvious what the fundamental requirements of your job are.
If you’re unsure whether the task you’re unable to perform due to lack of accommodations is an essential duty or a nonessential job function, a disability discrimination and accommodation attorney from California can offer guidance.
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Discrimination Against Perceived Disabilities
It’s also against the law for employers to discriminate against you because of a perceived disability. This means that even if you do not have a disability, but your employer believes that you do, and your employer takes an adverse action against you because he or she believes you have a disability, you are still protected under the FEHA.
Furthermore, an employer cannot take any action against you because of your association with a person who has a physical disability, mental disability, or medical condition.
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You Have a Responsibility to Notify Your Employer of Your Disability
To benefit from the protections provided by California law, you must notify your employer that you have a disability. Although you don’t have to use the word “disability” when disclosing your condition, you must put your employer on notice of your disability.
You can put your employer on notice of your disability either by providing the name of your impairment, whether that be depression, epilepsy, etc., telling your employer of the symptoms you are experiencing, or letting your employer know that you have a condition for which you are under the care of a healthcare provider and letting them know of any restrictions you have or accommodations you need to perform your essential job functions.
If you’ve experienced discrimination or denial of accommodations but failed to tell your employer about your condition, it may be difficult or impossible for a disability discrimination and accommodation lawyer from our team in California to help you seek damages.
However, you may still be able to get help from one of our California employment lawyers if you have a reasonable belief that your employer was on notice of your disability even without having told them.
An example of this is if an employee has a broken foot and is seen by his or her supervisor walking with the assistance of crutches. In this example, although the employee did not say anything to his or her employer, the supervisor observed the employee using crutches and was put on notice that the employee may have a disability.
In such an example, the employer would have a duty to engage in the “interactive process” with the employee and provide reasonable accommodations to help the employee perform the essential functions of his or her job duties.
Employers of Disabled Workers Must Engage in the Interactive Process
Once your employer is aware or should be aware of your disability, the law requires them to engage in what is known as the “interactive process.”
The interactive process is a dialogue between you and your employer that aims to identify the accommodations you need to perform the core duties of your job. According to the law, your employer must initiate this process and provide the accommodations you need to do your job, even if you don’t ask them to do so.
To receive disability protection from the FEHA, you must also participate in good faith in the interactive process. To participate in the process, you should provide your employer with one of the following:
- A list of restrictions that you have because of your disability, such as a restriction on the number of pounds you can lift
- A doctor’s note that states your restrictions and the amount of time your restrictions are expected to last
An employer’s failure to provide you with a reasonable accommodation or to engage in the interactive process with you are two independent violations of the law. A lawyer from Domb & Rauchwerger may be able to help you take action against your employer if the employer committed either of those violations.
Retaliating Against Employees Who Request Accommodations is Illegal
It is also against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for requesting a reasonable accommodation to help you perform an essential function of your job.
If you believe your employer has taken one of the adverse actions mentioned earlier against you for requesting a reasonable accommodation, an experienced disability discrimination attorney can hold them accountable for their actions.
Remedies You Could Receive With the Help of a California Attorney
If your employer has five or more employees and has failed to provide you with a reasonable accommodation, discriminated against you because of your disability, or retaliated against you, an experienced disability discrimination lawyer could obtain for you the following remedies via a lawsuit:
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Compensation for emotional distress
- Attorney’s fees and court costs
- Punitive damages
Our Firm is the Right Choice for Your Disability Discrimination or Accommodation Case
Attorneys Zack Domb and Devin Rauchwerger are uniquely qualified to take on your disability discrimination case. They were both partners at one of the largest employment defense firms in the country, where they defended high-profile and Fortune 500 employers against all types of discrimination and employment-related claims.
Due to their extensive experience defending and providing advice to employers, they know how companies operate and can confidently go up against their defense attorneys. Domb & Rauchwerger know how to hold discriminatory employers accountable for their actions, and they can use their knowledge to help victims of disability discrimination like yourself.
Zack Domb and Devin Rauchwerger work on every case together, so when you hire them, you’re getting the assistance of two highly experienced California disability discrimination attorneys who can fight tirelessly to get the results you deserve.
Domb & Rauchwerger are aggressive when fighting for your rights but calm and compassionate when guiding you through the legal process, making them the perfect team to help you through this emotional and financially stressful time.
Contact Our Firm Today
Domb & Rauchwerger is committed to providing comprehensive and effective legal services to victims of wrongful termination, sexual harassment, retaliation, disability discrimination, and other employment law violations.
If you believe your employer has taken adverse action against you for a disability or failed to take the measures necessary to provide you with reasonable accommodations, contact a California disability discrimination and accommodation lawyer to get the justice you deserve.
They’ll gladly discuss your case during a free consultation and let you know if you have grounds for a claim.