Disability Discrimination Attorneys in California

No one chooses to have a disability, but disabilities are part of life for many. These disabilities can sometimes have a negative impact on a person’s job. In those cases, knowing which actions constitute unlawful discrimination against disability is important. 

Disability discrimination happens when an employer treats a qualified employee or applicant unfavorably because they have a disability. It is unlawful to treat qualified employees or applicants less favorably because of a history of disability, because of the employer’s belief that the individual may have a disability, or because of the individual’s relationship with a person with a disability. 

Other examples of disability discrimination include: 

  • Asking job applicants questions about their past or current medical conditions, or requiring job applicants to take medical exams. 
  • Creating or maintaining a workplace that includes substantial impediments to the free movement of people with physical disabilities. 
  • Cutting your hours, relocating you, or changing your responsibilities, title or pay after you return from medical leave. 
  • Discriminating on the basis of physical or mental disability in various aspects of employment, including: recruitment, firing, hiring, training, job assignments, promotions, pay, benefits, lay off, leave, and other employment-related activities. 
  • Harassing an employee on the basis of his or her disability. 
  • Refusing to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with a physical or mental disability that would enable them to continue to work. 

California and Federal Disability Discrimination Laws

FEHA vs. ADA: The Main Differences 

In California, disabled employees are protected by two main pieces of legislation:  

FEHA was adopted earlier than the ADA, but the California legislature significantly revised it in 1992. After the ADA, these revisions were modeled, so the two acts are similar. The main difference is that FEHA usually gives more protection to employees with disabilities. 

Note that the ADA does not prevent states or local governments from adopting laws that provide equal or greater protection for employees. This means that employers in California are required to comply with the laws that create the highest standards. 

Here are some of the key differences between FEHA and the ADA:  

  • The definition of “disability” is broader under FEHA than it is under the ADA. 
  • In situations where the definition of “disability” is not broader under FEHA than the ADA, FEHA incorporates the definition that would provide the employee with the broadest possible protection. Therefore, the coverage of FEHA is always at least equal to that of the ADA. 
  • The ADA limits the amount of damages that employees can recover in a civil case, while FEHA has no limitations on the amounts that an employee can recover. 
  • The ADA applies only to employers with 15 or more employees, while FEHA applies only to employers with five or more employees. 
  • Under FEHA, an employer’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability is broader than under the ADA. 

These differences can be important for employees who wish to file an EEOC claim against their employer. Because FEHA grants employees more rights than the ADA does, it is often advisable for employees to pursue relief under FEHA instead of the ADA. 

Fighting for the Disability Rights of California Employees

We believe that employers who discriminate against qualified individuals should be held accountable for their actions. If an employer or potential employer has violated your rights, our experienced Disability Discrimination Attorneys in California are ready to assist you. 

Call (415) 534-1911 or email us to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Learn more about Mental Disability Discrimination.