People with disabilities make up an increasing percentage of today’s population. Advocacy and action for the rights of the disabled have long been a focus at our law firm. Disabled employees are entitled to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. But when this right is violated, it’s important that they know what laws protect them and how they can seek justice against their employers.
The Americans With Disabilities Act and California Fair Employment and Housing Act
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to protect disabled workers and their immediate family members from discrimination and harassment at work. Employers often believe disabled employees cannot handle the same roles and responsibilities of nondisabled employees, so this law helps ensure disabled individuals are treated equally.
Under the ADA, employers cannot take an employee’s disability into consideration when making any decisions related to hiring, firing, promoting, wage determinations, or job benefits. This is a federal law that applies to all employers with fifteen or more employees.
Employees in California are protected by both the ADA and the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which is a California law. FEHA offers broader disability discrimination protection than the ADA does. FEHA only requires that your disability limits a major life activity, regardless of the extent of the limitation. FEHA also allows permits individuals to file a disability discrimination suit if their employer has discriminated against them because of a perceived disability, even if the disability is only thought to exist.
Common examples of unlawful disability discrimination include:
- Failure to provide or grant a reasonable accommodation
- Termination after onset of disability or notice of disability
- Demotion/retaliation because of need or request for a reasonable accommodation
- Termination when on protected leave of absence
- Treatment that is negative or adversely impacts your employment after an injury or disability
- Failure to engage in the interactive process to determine a reasonable accommodation