Unfortunately, disability discrimination continues to be on the rise in California and throughout the nation due to our aging population and the economy that has unfortunately caused employees to delay retirement. Older workers frequently develop disabilities that entitle them to protection under the laws. All workers, regardless of disability or limitations, should be allowed to put their skills to work for the job that they were employed to do. Fortunately, California law has expanded upon many of the protections offered under federal law. For example, an employer under California law can be found liable when they discriminate against an employee because of his or her perceived disability. Perceived disability discrimination exists when an employer treats an employee differently than other employees because of the belief or perception that they are disabled when in reality the individual has no such disability. In order to establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination, an employee pursuing a FEHA claim must show: (1) he or she suffers from a disability; (2) qualified to perform their job; and (3) subjected to some form of adverse action because of the disability.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide Reasonable Accomodations
By law, an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations for any disabled employee in order to help facilitate that employee’s success in performing the essential functions of their job unless they can establish that providing the accommodation would cause an unjust hardship. An example of unjust hardship has been found when the cost of making the accommodation would be too much of a financial burden for the employer. Common examples of accommodations provided to disabled employees include leave time, modified work schedules and computer aids or equipment. If an employer does not make reasonable workplace accommodations, it is committing an illegal employment action and must be held legally accountable to protect not only you but other disabled workers in the future. Our firm is deeply committed to the rights of disabled employees as Mr. Perrin has been disabled since childhood. We are therefore dedicated to seeing that disabled individuals are treated fairly and provided for according to the state and federal laws implemented to protect them.
Failure to Engage in the Interactive Process in Good Faith
In addition to the failure to provide reasonable accommodations, FEHA provides a separate claim against an employer for failing to engage in the interactive process in good faith after receiving your accommodation request. The scope of an employer’s obligations with respect to the interactive process is quite broad and triggered even when an employer has a reasonable basis to believe that an employee needs reasonable accommodations. If an employer does not engage in the interactive process in good faith, they are precluded from arguing in litigation that an employee, due to their disability, was a danger to the health and safety of themselves or others. During the interactive process, your employer is additionally precluded from demanding that you disclose the nature of your disability so that your valuable privacy rights are preserved.
Finally, there are certain filing deadlines that you must meet to pursue a claim under state or federal law or you will unfortunately be precluded from filing certain discrimination claims in court. Depending upon whether you chose to pursue federal or state remedies, you must timely file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you feel that you or someone you love has been the victim of disability discrimination, contact the Perrin Law Group today for your free consultation and stand up for your rights.