California law provides protections for employees with disabilities that are independent from, and often broader than, those provided by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (the “FEHA”) outlaws covered employers from engaging in several employment practices relating to persons with a qualifying physical disability, mental disability or medical condition who are able to perform the essential job duties with, or without, reasonable accommodation including:
- Refusing to hire or employ a person because of a disability or medical condition. (California Government Code § 12940(a));
- Terminating employment because of an employee’s disability or medical condition. (California Government Code § 12940(a));
- Discriminating against a person with a disability or medical condition, “incompensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.” (California Government Code § 12940(a));
- Failing to make reasonable accommodation for an employee with a known physical disability, mental disability, or a medical condition. (California Government Code § 12940(m));
- Failing to engage in a timely, good faith, interactive process with an employee with a qualifying disability or medical condition to determine effective reasonable accommodation. (California Government Code § 12940(n));
- Failing to prevent discrimination and harassment of an employee based on his or her disability or medical condition. (California Government Code § 12940 (j)-(k)).
FEHA prohibits discrimination against employees who have a “physical disability, mental disability or medical condition.” FEHA’s coverage is broadly construed so that applicants and employees are protected from discrimination due to disabling physical or mental impairments. Many health problems and diseases can qualify as a FEHA-protected disability or medical condition including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy and other physical or mental impairments that limit an individual’s ability to work or participate in other major life activities.
A FEHA-covered employer has an affirmative duty to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a known disability. Reasonable accommodation is individualized and it will vary depending on the particular situation. A non-exhaustive list of some forms of possible accommodation to consider includes: making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to disabled persons; job restructuring, job reassignment, setting a part-time or modified work schedule, acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, or providing the employee accrued paid leave, or an unpaid leave of absence, for treatment or recovery. A FEHA-covered employer must engage in a timely interactive process in response to an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation of a known disability or medical condition.
Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer if you believe that you have suffered workplace discrimination due to a physical disability, mental disability or medical condition.