Disabilities & the Workplace

Being disabled is not a choice, nor should it ever be held against you. In reality, having a disability does not mean you cannot work, nor does it remove your qualifications in your career. In fact, people with disabilities are part of a protected class of people, who employers are legally prohibited from discriminating against. Under state and federal laws, employment discrimination occurs when an employer considers a person’s disability (actual or perceived) and exposes the person to adverse decisions or treatment based on the disability.

California Offers Strong Protections

California defines disabilities as conditions that limit a major life activity of a person and may include physical disabilities, mental disabilities, certain medical conditions, and age-related disabilities. This goes beyond federal law and therefore offers California employees greater protection from discrimination. Essentially, employers are required to evaluate applicants on their merit, on their qualifications, and not on their disability. In addition, an employer cannot ask an applicant to describe the disability or subject the applicant to medical or mental testing that other applicants are not required to complete.

Reasonable Accommodations

Not only is discrimination illegal, but under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are legally mandated to make “reasonable accommodations” to allow for disabled people the opportunity to work and to do their jobs.

What this accommodation actually looks like is within the discretion of the employer and can vary from building and workspace accessibility improvements, to changes in deadlines or job schedules, to restructuring a job position, to transferring the person to a different position. Employers are required to act in good faith and to respond in a timely manner when addressing accommodations.

However, there are limitations on what constitutes a “reasonable” accommodation, including:

  • Creating an “undue hardship” for the employer. This may mean an unreasonably expensive or difficult accommodation.
  • An accommodation that prevents the employee from performing an essential job function.
  • An accommodation that creates a safety risk for the employee or other employees.

In other words, if you cannot perform essential job functions or your accommodation creates an unsafe working environment for yourself or others, an employer is not obligated to make the accommodation.

Man in Wheelchair Working at an Office

Call Moss Bollinger for Help

If you are disabled, you are in a protected class under the law. Unfortunately, employers do not always follow the law. If you believe that an employer has engaged in discrimination against you based on disability, or you have been denied a reasonable accommodation to allow you to work, contact Moss Bollinger. For years, we have fought against discriminatory employment practices and pride ourselves in holding employers accountable for misconduct. If you contact our office, we will treat you with the respect you deserve and can help you determine if you have a claim. We charge no fees up front and work on a contingency basis. Call Moss Bollinger today at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or reach us online.

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