Discriminating against an employee with physical or mental disabilities is against the law. According to federal and state regulations, employers must provide reasonable accommodation to a disabled employee, the only exception being if it would impose undue hardship (i.e., the changes would be prohibitively difficult or expensive). Under disability discrimination law in California, treating disabled employees differently is a form of employment discrimination. A disabled employee subject to workplace discrimination is protected under the law and can file a lawsuit to seek damages.
Workplace Disability Protections in California
In California, citizens with a physical disability or mental disability are protected under these two main laws:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): The ADA was passed by Congress in 1990 to protect individuals with disabilities against discrimination. Applying to employers with 15 or more workers, it provides standards to determine the criteria for being disabled and the types of accommodations considered reasonable. Federal laws are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC handles employee complaints and even pursues legal action of claims in federal court.
- California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): A state-issued version of the ADA, FEHA addresses various discriminatory practices. It prohibits discrimination based on medical conditions and genetic information, in addition to physical and mental disabilities. Unlike the ADA, it applies to employers with five or more employees, offers a broader definition of disability, and has no limits on how much an employee can recover. California disability discrimination law also forbids an employer to refuse training, alter the terms and conditions of employment/compensation, or deny a promotion to someone because of a disability.
Examples of Disability Discrimination in the Workplace
Disability discrimination doesn’t always involve an action as profound as termination or refusal to hire. Examples of discriminatory practices include:
- Changes in work duties, such as decreased or increased workloads.
- Sudden, unexplained changes in job performance reviews.
- Inappropriate questions on applications and during interviews.
- Reduced pay compared to other workers with similar job tasks.
- Reduction in hours despite an employee’s ability to work a full day.
- Failing to inform an employee of company meetings and events.
- Jokes or comments targeting individuals with disabilities.
What Is Reasonable Accommodation for a Disability?
Federal and state employment law requires employers to discuss with applicants and workers what they need to do their job. This could entail, at the employee’s request or based on what is deemed reasonable:
- Adapting an employee’s work schedule.
- Restructuring the job to suit their needs.
- Supplying modified equipment.
- Adjusting work policies.
- Assigning a reader or interpreter.
- Permitting a service dog in the workplace.
What Are the Damages for a California Employment Discrimination Lawsuit?
In an employment discrimination lawsuit, the damages can include, depending on the extent of the problem and harm done to the employee/applicant, monetary compensation in the form of back pay with interest. Front pay, higher income from a raise, benefits (health/pension), and bonus payments may also be awarded. Disability discrimination claims may also pursue pain and suffering and emotional distress damages as well.
Contact Lawyers for Justice
Representing employee rights for workers across Southern California, Lawyers for Justice can help if your employer has discriminated against you for a disability. Our expertise in California disability discrimination law allows us to ensure you receive all disability protections entitled to you. We hold all Los Angeles employers accountable for workplace discrimination. Conveniently located in Glendale, our disability discrimination attorney is prepared to assess your claim and ensure you get the justice you deserve. To speak with a lawyer today and receive a free case evaluation, call 818-587-8423.