Illness and injury can cause upheaval in every aspect of a disabled person’s life. But when disabled individuals lose their job or are in other ways discriminated against in employment because of a disability, this can lead to a complete loss of self. Los Angeles employment lawyers at the Genie Harrison Law Firm are here to protect you and to ensure that you remain the valuable contributor to society you have always been, regardless of disability or illness.
In California, there are generally three different types of employment disability discrimination cases: (1) when an employer takes action against you because of an illness or disability; (2) when an employer fails to reasonably accommodate your illness or disability; or (3) when an employer fails to engage in a good faith interactive process with you to determine whether or not you can be reasonably accommodated.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) protects employees suffering from certain physical and mental disabilities, and medical conditions.
An employee is considered to have a protected physical disability when they have any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that (1) affects one or more of several body systems (for example, neurological or immunological systems) and (2) limits a major life activity (for example, working).
An employee is considered to have a protected mental disability when they have a mental or psychological disorder or condition that limits a major life activity or requires special education or related services.
An employee is considered to have a protected medical condition when they have a major health impairment (for example, cancer or HIV/AIDS) or condition resulting from a genetic characteristic.
Additionally, an employee is considered to be suffering from a disability or medical condition when they have a history of such an impairment that is known to the employer, is incorrectly regarded or treated as having or having had such an impairment, or is regarded or treated as having or having had such an impairment that has no present disability effects but may become a qualifying impairment in the future.
Employees must also be able to perform the “essential job functions,” with or without reasonable accommodation, to be protected under California disability law. This means that the employee is able to perform the main functions of the position they are seeking to obtain or retain. Many factors go into a determination of what a position’s essential functions are. Key among them are: (1) whether or not the position exists to perform the function; (2) the number of employees available to perform the functions; and (3) whether the function is highly specialized.
Rarely do employers come right out and say that they are refusing to hire or are taking action against a qualified disabled person. Instead, employers may complain about your need for a medical leave or complain that you other employees have to cover you when you are out to doctor’s appointments. Or an employer may just make comments that it was easier to work with you before you became disabled or affected by a medical condition.