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Disability Discrimination Attorney in California

Whether he is a qualified employee or job applicant, you must treat your employee fairly regardless of disability. It is unlawful to be treated unfavorably due to any disability. Unfortunately, disability discrimination in California happens. It could be a supervisor or a co-worker creating a hostile work environment. It does not matter who is causing it; what matters is that your employee can be discriminated in the workplace based on his or her disability. When this happens, you can face a disability discrimination lawsuit. In some cases, you may owe compensation.

 At Law Offices of Albert Chang, our discrimination disability lawyer based in California understands the disability discrimination law both in federal and California and will guide you through in defending such lawsuit. Contact us today by filling out our ONLINE FORM or calling us at (310) 769-6836 to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.

What Constitutes Disability Discrimination in California?

Disability discrimination occurs when a person who suffers from a disability is treated less favorably as an employee or a job applicant due to that disability. Disability discrimination also occurs when a person is treated differently due to their association with a person with a disability.  

Rights for Employees with Disabilities

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) establishes certain rights for employees and job applicants that have a disability. These rights include:

  • Free from harassment. A disabled person cannot be harassed regarding their disability in the workplace by supervisors, managers, or co-workers.
  • Reasonable accommodations. A person who suffers from a disability has the right to request reasonable accommodations to allow them to apply for a job, perform their job duties, or otherwise have the same benefits as other employees.
  • Privacy. An employer is very limited in what they can ask an employee about in regard to their health. 
  • Confidentiality. With limited exceptions, any information an employee does share with an employer in regard to their health must be kept confidential.
  • Free from retaliation. A person who does complain about disability discrimination, or is associated with a person who complains about disability discrimination, cannot be retaliated against. 

Rights have further been established by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which became law in 1990. In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) became law. The ADAAA clarifies the scope and definition of disability under the ADA. California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is California's state counterpart that provides additional protections for individuals with disabilities within the state. These acts are designed to provide the same opportunities and rights that a typical person has in all areas of life, including employment.

Examples of Disability Discrimination in California

Disability discrimination can take various forms. Some common examples are described below.

Inaccessible Areas 

A disabled employee should have the same access to areas around the office as other, non-disabled employees. An employee in a wheelchair, for example, should be able to maneuver around the same as everyone else and access all areas of the office available to other employees. 

When an employer leaves areas inaccessible and, thus, fails to comply with the ADA and FEHA, disability discrimination exists.

Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodations

If an employee requires an accommodation that would be no hardship on the employer to effectively complete their job, the employer should comply with that accommodation. For example, if an employee is partially deaf and cannot hear well in a noisy environment and requests a workspace in a quieter area, the employer should provide them with a new workspace when possible. 

When an employer fails to provide reasonable accommodation, a disability discrimination claim may exist.


A disabled employee's disability should never be the subject of office jokes or teasing. For example, an employee who is blind should never be made fun of due to their loss of vision.

Jokes, however, do not have to be specific to the employee's disability but relevant to disabilities in general. If there's a pattern of jokes or teasing in the office, a hostile work environment is created. As such, the employer may be liable for disability discrimination. 

Loss of Promotion

An employer cannot pass you over for a promotion if you have a disability or if you are close to someone with a disability. For example, an employee has a child with a disability and finds out that the reason they were not promoted is that their manager thought it would be too much responsibility for someone with a disabled family member. 

This failure to promote on this basis may qualify as disability discrimination and is unlawful. 

What Is a Disability?

To secure the protection of the EEOC, ADA and FEHA, you must be qualified for the job and have a disability defined by the law. A disability can be established in one of three ways:

  1. You have a physical or mental condition, and it substantially limits a major life activity. Examples of major life activities include walking, seeing, and hearing.
  2. You have a history or record of a disability (mental or physical impairment) that substantially limited a major life activity, even though you do not have the disability now. An example of this type of disability is cancer––you had cancer but are now in remission.
  3. You are regarded as having a physical impairment, which could mean any of the following: (1) you have an impairment that does not substantially limit a major life activity; (2) you have an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity because of the way others perceive you; or (3) you have no impairment but are still treated by an entity as having one.

Examples of Qualifying Disabilities

  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Blindness
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Deafness
  • Depression (severe)
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • HIV infection
  • Loss of limb(s)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Paraplegia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Quadriplegia
  • Schizophrenia

Examples of Non-Qualifying Disabilities

Simply having a medical condition or mental health issue will not always constitute a disability for the purposes of disability discrimination claims or complaints. Examples of conditions that do not constitute an impairment in terms of the ADA and FEHA include:

  • Compulsive gambling
  • Kleptomania
  • Pedophilia
  • Psychoactive substance use disorders (as a consequence of illegal substance abuse)
  • Sexual behavior disorders 

What Should Employers in California Do to Prevent Disability Discrimination?

While there may be differences in how disability discrimination is treated in the workplace in different states, there are steps that all employers should take to prevent it from happening.

Company-Wide Training

All companies should provide training for employees, including those in leadership. Training should include federal, state, and local laws on what is considered disability discrimination. It should be administered to all new hires.

Training, however, should not be a one-time event. The training should be reviewed on a regular basis so that it complies with any changes in the law or with all new rules and regulations.

Company-Wide Policies 

Companies should create policies that address disability discrimination and clarify what is not allowed. There should also be a procedure in place to file a complaint. All complaints should be addressed and when appropriate, discipline should be administered.

Contact Us Today

At Law Offices of Albert Chang, our employment law lawyer based in California understands how facing a disability discrimination lawsuit as an employer can be a daunting experience. You don't have to navigate it alone as we am here to provide you with the guidance and representation you need. If you find yourself in this challenging situation, contact us today by filling out our ONLINE FORM or calling us at (310) 769-6836 to schedule a free consultation and to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

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