Disability Discrimination

disabilityIt is illegal under both the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to discriminate against an employee or job applicant because of disability or certain medical conditions, in the “terms or conditions of employment.” This could include salary, hiring, or other conditions.

It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a “qualified” individual with a disability. For the employee to be eligible under the ADA or FEHA, they must first be a “qualified individual with a disability.”

The person must be physically able to do the job and their disability must limit one or “more major life activities.” A mere annoyance or hindrance is not enough. The disability must interfere with a person’s physical abilities and ability to earn a living. Even if the disability doesn’t affect most areas of life, but affects the person’s employment or their ability to work, it may be sufficient.

Under California legislation, there is no longer a requirement that the disability “substantially” limit major life activities, rather only “limit” activities.

Employees must usually ask for a reasonable accommodation. When they do, the employer must consider the requests, and if reasonable, accommodate the employee’s special needs in most cases. If the employee can do the job, then the employer must engage in an interactive process with the employee and consider whether or not a “reasonable accommodation” can be made. This is when the employer modifies the job duties, provides an assistant, or takes some other special measures to enable the person to do the job.

Disability and medical condition discrimination laws are among the most rapidly expanding areas of the law. If you have questions, you should contact us for an evaluation.