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Disability Discrimination Attorney in Orange, California

Both federal and California state laws provide legal protections for individuals with disabilities. At the federal level, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers all employers with 15 or more employees, as well as state and local governmental entities.

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the Disabled Persons Act protect people with disabilities from discrimination not only on the job but also in housing opportunities and access to businesses serving the public. In the Golden State, a business needs only five employees to have anti-discrimination laws apply to them. 

If you feel you have been discriminated against because of a disability at your place of work in or around Orange, California, contact The Guha Law Firm. Do not face the situation by yourself. Our legal team is determined to hold those responsible for your discrimination or termination accountable for their wrong deeds. We fight for the rights of workers throughout the counties of Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside. 

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Disability Discrimination

State and federal legislation protects any individual with a mental or physical impairment through every aspect of employment, from advertising for the opening to being interviewed for the position, to being tested for an opening, to being hired, to being treated fairly on the job, and to termination. 

The ADA protects those who work for state and local governmental agencies, as well as private employers with 15 or more employees. The federal Rehabilitation Act covers those who work for a federal agency. In California, FEHA covers businesses with as few as five employees. 

How Is Disability Defined?

The ADA defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as walking, reading, bending, and communicating, but also extends to major bodily functions like the immune system and digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. 

California’s definition of disabilities also recognizes impairments that limit major life activities, but it also covers medical conditions such as cancer or HIV/AIDS. California’s protections can be broader than those under the ADA. 

Who Is Covered?

There are three categories of individuals on the job who are covered under the ADA and FEHA: 

  • An employee with an actual disability: Any employee (or job applicant) who has a mental or physical impairment that limits a major life activity is protected. 

  • An employee with a history of impairment: An employer cannot discriminate based on someone’s past disability, for instance, someone who is recovering from cancer. 

  • An employee who is regarded as being disabled: If the employer regards the job applicant or employee as being disabled, even if the employer is wrong, the applicant or employee is still protected against discrimination. 

What Is a Qualified Worker With a Disability?

One thing to keep in mind under the ADA is that a disabled job applicant or employee must be “qualified” for the essential duties of the job for which they are hired. So, if a disabled person applies for a data entry position, they would need to know how to operate the computer system and the software and possess the necessary education and work experience. 

Reasonable Accommodations

Even though employers are allowed to screen job applicants for required skills, a disabled person has the right to request what are called reasonable accommodations. Even a job applicant can request a reasonable accommodation if there is a test to evaluate the candidate’s skill level, but all applicants for that position must also be given the test or it could be discriminatory. A reasonable accommodation might be to give the applicant more time to finish the test because of a physical impairment.

Under both the ADA and FEHA, employees with mental or physical impairments can request a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. In the data-entry example above, a reasonable accommodation might be reading assistance software.  

When an employee makes a request for a reasonable accommodation, the employer must engage in what is called a “good faith interactive process” with that person. In California, the process must begin as soon as the employer learns the employee has a disability. 

Note that in California, the employer can also request proof of your mental or physical condition from your doctor. It’s not mandatory that they do so, but they can if they choose. Any medical records submitted to the employer must be kept confidential and not stored alongside any other personal records for that individual, but separately in a secure location. 

An employer can reject a request for a reasonable accommodation only if it will present the business with an “undue hardship.” An undue hardship might be that it’s too costly or that it would require a major reconfiguring of the workplace itself. 

Disability Discrimination Attorney Serving Orange, California

Sometimes employees will put up with discrimination at work for fear of retaliation, being demoted, or even being terminated. But retaliation is illegal under the law, so if you’re facing any discrimination or wrong treatment because of your mental or physical impairment, reach out to us immediately at The Guha Law Firm. We offer compassionate yet aggressive client service, aiming to protect your full rights under the law.