Disabled workers are a protected class under California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA), as well as the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These regulations make it illegal for companies to fire, fail to promote, or otherwise discriminate workers based upon either of physical or mental disabilities. These laws also require companies to provide reasonable accommodations for workers who suffer from either temporary or permanent disabilities. One of the most common accommodations requested by employees is a temporary medical leave of absence to recover from a particular disability.
Disability discrimination claims cover a wide range of possible situations, including:
- Failure to accommodate medical leaves of absence
- Failure to promote workers because they have a disability
- Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations to assist disabled workers perform their job functions
- Discharging a disabled worker for requesting an disability related accommodation
You Must Be a Qualified Individual with A Disability
For a worker to qualify to make a claim of disability discrimination based upon California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act, he or she must be considered a “qualified individual with a disability.” This requires that the worker must be able to perform the essential functions of the job, either with our without a reasonable accommodation.
In determining whether or not a worker is “disabled” for the purposes of California law, the law requires that the medical condition impacts a “major life activity.” However, the employee’s job and ability to work is considered a “major life activity” under California law. So, even if the disability doesn’t impact many areas of the employee’s day to day life, if it affects employment, it is generally considered a disability for the purposes of California law.