Los Angeles Disability Discrimination Attorney
We are Passionate About Disability Rights.
California provides strict laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and injuries. Tragically, employers frequently do not provide workers with disabilities with the reasonable accommodations they deserve. Much too often, workers are wrongfully terminated because of their disabilities and requests for accommodation.
Attorney Betsy Havens has spent her career fighting for people with disabilities to receive the respect, rights, and services they deserve. She has achieved tremendous results of her clients with disabilities, to make sure they are generously compensated for the wrongful terminations and discrimination they have faced.
Disability Discrimination Is Illegal.
Individuals with physical and mental disabilities are protected from discrimination by employers under federal and state laws. Disability discrimination occurs when an employer treats a qualified individual who has or is perceived to have a disability unfavorably. Disability discrimination can also occur when an employer treats an employee or applicant differently because of a history with a disability. This can occur, for example, if someone is terminated because he or she used to have cancer and is currently in remission. Unfavorable treatment based on an individual’s disability is against the law.
Examples of Disability Discrimination
Employers are unlikely to inform you that they are terminating you because of your disability. So how do you know that your are experiencing disability discrimination? Our cases often include one of the following:
(1) A worker is required to take a brief medical leave of absence and is terminated during their leave or shortly after their return;
(2) A worker requests but is denied a request for a reasonable accommodation by the employer. Then, the employer fabricates a reason to terminate them shortly thereafter;
(3) A worker requests reasonable accommodations, is treated differently as a result, and then complains that they are a victim of disability discrimination. The employer then terminates them.
If one of these situations has happened to you, you need a Strong Advocate to help you exercise your rights. We have had tremendous success in helping our clients with disabilities get the compensation they deserve.
What Is Considered a Disability Under California Law?
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees from discrimination by their employers on the basis of disability. This California statute provides broad worker protection for people suffering from physical and mental disabilities and medical conditions. Individuals with disabilities or injuries must (1) be considered “disabled” as defined under the law, and (2) be an otherwise qualified individual, as explored below.
Generally speaking, an individual is protected under the FEHA if they have a physical or mental disability or medical condition that limits their ability to perform at least one job.
Under the FEHA, a physical disability includes having any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that:
(1) Affects a major body system (i.e., neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, reproductive, etc.); and
(2) Limits a major life activity (such as physical, mental, and social activities and working).
Under the FEHA, a person is considered “disabled” due to a mental disability if they have any mental or psychological disorder or condition, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities that limits a major life activity. A major life activity is broadly defined to include working, along with other physical, mental, and social activities.
Mental disability does not include sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, or drug use disorders.
The FEHA also prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of a medical condition, including any health impairment related to or associated with a diagnosis of cancer or a record or history of cancer; or genetic characteristics.
What is a “Qualified Individual With a Disability”?
In order to be protected under federal and California law, employees must be able to perform the “essential job functions” with or without accommodations. This means that, with reasonable accommodations, the employee is able to perform the major tasks required in their job position. For instance, a symphony conductor who loses his ability to hear may lose his position as conductor, although this would not preclude them from being reassigned to a desk job. Such a reassignment would not be disability discrimination.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation in Disability Cases?
California employers must provide reasonable accommodations to an employee with a disability to enable them to do their job, unless that accommodation would result in undue hardship.
Reasonable accommodations may include, for instance, a modified work schedule, a finite medical leave of absence, breaks to rest an injury, purchasing a ramp or other equipment, or reassigning an employee to a vacant position for which they are qualified. When a reasonable accommodation is not provided, or is provided insufficiently, the employer could be in violation of the law.
California law also protects individuals associated with individuals with disabilities. For instance, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to allow a parent to have a flexible work schedule to care for their child with disabilities, as long as the parent can perform their essential job functions. An accommodation may be considered to cause an “undue hardship” to the employer if it would cost a great sum of money or manpower.
What is a Good Faith, Interactive Process?
An employer’s duty to engage in an individualized, good faith, interactive process begins as soon as they have a reason to believe that an employee has a disability. The good faith effort should include an honest discussion with the employee and human resources (if there is one), and should take into account any letters from medical professionals.
Both parties must provide information to enable a full and complete dialogue about the accommodations and needs. Neither side can withhold information or obstruct the process. In some circumstances, employers may request that the employee provide evidence from their healthcare representative. If an employer determines that providing the accommodation requested would cause them undue hardship, the interactive process may require further dialogue about how the employee’s limitations can be accommodated.
It is illegal for a California employer to terminate an employee in response to a request for a reasonable accommodation, or for complaining about disability discrimination.
We Will Fight For You Against Disability Discrimination.
If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated because of your disability, the skilled team at Strong Advocates is here to help. We specialize in disability discrimination and have been helping clients in Los Angeles and throughout California obtain the resolution they deserve. No matter how large and powerful the company that violated your rights, we will tirelessly fight for you.
In addition to understanding the chronology of events that occurred, we will want to review all of the documents related to your potential disability discrimination claim. Please be prepared to share the following with our team:
• written correspondence you have had with your employer related to your requests for accommodation and any responses,
• any documentation you have provided to your employer in support of your request for an accommodation such as a letter or certification from your doctor,
• A list of possible witnesses
• your employee handbook and any other documents you received when you were hired, and
• any forms you may have completed for FMLA or CFRA leave.