Your Rights as a Disabled Employee

In my practice, I’ve too often found that employers fail to fully grasp how to respect the legal rights of disabled employees. If you have a disability and want to work, it is therefore important to be aware of these rights so that you can demand to be treated lawfully.

Protection from Discrimination

People with disabilities are part of a protected class under federal and California’s discrimination laws. In California, where disabilities are broadly defined to encompass both physical and mental disabilities, it is unlawful for employers to engage in discrimination against disabled employees or job applicants. This means that an employer cannot make adverse employment decisions based on a person’s disability, history of disability, or perceived disability. For example, an employer cannot ask a job applicant about the applicant’s disability, or subject the applicant to medical or psychological testing that other applicants are not subjected to.

Right to Reasonable Accommodations

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provide workplace rights for disabled employees and potential employees. One of the more notable rights is that employers must make “reasonable accommodations” for employees who are temporarily or permanently unable to perform the essential functions of their jobs due to physical or mental disabilities. Failing to hire or taking adverse employment action, such as demotion or termination, against a disabled person without exploring reasonable accommodations can open an employer to significant liability.

While there is no list that defines reasonable accommodations, some of the more common accommodations that employers may offer to comply with the law include:

  • Restructuring the job position or essential job functions to better suit the employee’s abilities;
  • Reassigning the employee to a different position;
  • Ensuring compliance with accessibility laws, including handicapped parking, ramps, accessible bathroom, desk, etc.;
  • Approving leave;
  • Modifying the employee’s work schedule;
  • Assistive technology or equipment; or
  • The ability to work from home.

If you are disabled and request a reasonable accommodation, your employer is legally mandated to engage you in a timely and interactive process to determine what reasonable accommodations may be offered to allow you to fulfill your job functions. As a caveat, employers may claim an “undue hardship” as a defense to providing a reasonable accommodation.

Two coworkers standing and one coworker in a wheelchair looking at laptop

Contact Moss Bollinger

If you are a disabled employee in California and your employer has discriminated against you or declined to offer you reasonable accommodations to work, you may have a claim. Unfortunately, employers are quick to claim an undue hardship instead of making a good faith effort to honor your legal rights. Call Moss Bollinger today and let us fight for your right to work. We work on a contingency basis, and do not get paid unless you do. Call us at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or contact us online.

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