Protecting California’s Employees With Disabilities From Discrimination

  • Nov 18 2013
  • Gilleon Law Firm, APC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing the federal laws prohibiting discrimination against disabled persons in the workplace. Recently, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against the Georgia Power Company for allegedly discriminating against employees and job candidates because of their disabilities. Lawsuit documents describe how Georgia Power’s medical director ignored employees’ and candidates’ medical reports from treating physicians that said that they were fit to work. Instead, the medical director independently concluded that employees and candidates were not able to work and discharged them.

Prohibitions in California

State and federal laws prohibit discrimination in employment and harassment against applicants or employees who are disabled or are perceived to be disabled. California code requires employers to reasonably accommodate persons with mental or physical disabilities unless doing so would cause undue hardship.

Disability Discrimination in California

California law declares that the disability must “limit” a major life activity without calculating for mitigating factors, such as medications or prostheses. California law extends beyond the federal standard, which requires the disability to be a “substantial limitation.” Gambling, psychoactive drug abuse and sexual behavior disorders are not considered to be disabilities under California law.

Reasonable Accommodations for California’s Disabled Citizens

When developing an acceptable reasonable accommodation as required by California law, the employer and employee should cooperate with each other. Approved methods of reasonable accommodation include:

  • Selecting a new work area
  • Modifying an existing work station
  • Changing job duties and hours
  • Furnishing mechanical or electronic aids
  • Designating leave time

Employers do not have to provide the accommodation if it causes the employer an undue burden. Experienced California employment law attorneys can advise on which accommodations are reasonable.

Overcoming Defenses

If an employee cannot do the essential functions of the job and no reasonable accommodation exists that would enable the person to do the job, there is no illegal discrimination. In addition, it is against the law to discriminate against a disabled person if there would be imminent and gross danger to the person and others by employing the person to do the job and no reasonable accommodation exists to remove the danger.

Our experienced disability discrimination attorney understands state and federal laws and knows how to gather evidence to support a claim of employment discrimination. Call us for a free consultation if you suspect you may have been treated unfairly at work.

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