Often employees do not know that their chronic or long-term medical conditions may qualify as a disability in California, which makes them entitled to reasonable accommodations to allow them to continue working with their disability.
Employees in California are protected from discrimination if they have a physical or mental disability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Pursuant to California law disability is defined much more broadly than federal law. What is a disability under California law may not be a disability under federal law. In California, an employee is disabled, among other reasons, if they have any physical, mental or psychological condition, disease, or illness, which limits their ability to perform any major life activity. Major life activities include physical, mental and social activities. Some examples of major life activities include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, sleeping and working. Further, determining whether a person is disabled is done without considering mitigating measures such as medications, assistive devices, prosthetics, or reasonable accommodations, unless the mitigating measure itself limits a major life activity.
In California, diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure, arthritis, gout, cancer, back injuries, carpal tunnel, and many other chronic medical conditions have been found by juries to be physical disabilities. Further, mental conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression have been found by juries to be mental disabilities. Many employees who are suffering from these health types conditions are not aware that they have disabilities that entitled them to reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
In California, an employer must make “reasonable accommodation” for individuals with known disabilities, unless it can be demonstrate that doing so would be an undue hardship on its business operations. Undue hardship means significant difficulty or expense, and does not mean mere inconvenience. Further, the greater the overall financial resources of the company, the more difficult it would be to demonstrate undue hardship. The failure of an employer to provide reasonable accommodation for a known disability can give rise to a lawsuit for damages.
Common forms of accommodation that employers are required to make for employees who are disabled include:
(1) restructuring job schedules and responsibilities, (2) acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, (3) providing qualified interpreters or readers, (4) providing a finite medical leave, (5) modifying duties so an employee can continue to work with job restrictions, or (6) transferring an employee to a different vacant job that the employee is qualified for and can perform with accommodation.
Once an accommodation is requested, an employer has a duty to engage in a good faith interactive process to attempt to determine a reasonable accommodation for the employee. If the employer fails to do so, the employer has violated his duty under FEHA. Under California law, an employer fails to engage in such an interactive process if a reasonable accommodation would have been possible and if the employer is responsible for the breakdown in the interactive process or failed to enter into one.
In California, laws regarding the rights of disabled workers can be complicated. Commonly, employers terminate employees for excessive absences for medical conditions that could qualify as a disability. Requesting time off because of a disability may be protected under California law. In other words, if you have been terminated because you had to miss work intermittently for a disability, your rights as a disabled employee may have been violated and you should contact a wrongful termination lawyer.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against because you have a disability, or you are not being accommodated for a disability, then you should immediately contact an experienced employment law attorney for consultation. The city of Los Angeles has many lawyers who represent employees who have disabilities. However, beware because some attorneys will charge you to write a letter or consult about your case, and then ask to settle a case for very little money. On the other hand, some Los Angeles discrimination lawyers
provide hotlines where employees can call for free seeking information and guidance about how deal with an employer who is discriminating against an employee with a disability, or who is failing to accommodate an employee for a disability. Some very good wrongful termination attorneys in Los Angeles off free consultations. In California, there is the California Employment Lawyers Association
is a large city with lots of experienced lawyers, but remember it also has a lot of poor lawyers, and lawyers that will take your money and give you nothing of value in return. If you are disabled and concerned that your rights have been violated in the workplace, always try to find an attorney with a long history of success representing employees who are disabled to help you. Remember a history of past success is good evidence that the attorney you chose will have future success with your case.
Of course we recommend Cummings & Franck, P.C. if you are in search of an employment attorney in Los Angeles