The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to those who are considered disabled when they are thought to have a physical or mental impairment that limits what the ADA calls a “major life activity.” These activities are basic components of someone’s life that include walking, talking, seeing, and learning.
If somebody is not able to complete these tasks because they have impairments, then they are considered to be disabled. Most common examples of disabilities include things like wheelchair confinement, reliance on assistive devices like canes and walkers, blindness, deafness, a learning disability, and certain kinds of mental illness.
So the question is: What if you are being discriminated against in the workplace due to the fact that you have a disability? The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits employment discrimination and harassment based on a person’s disability and will prohibit retaliation for exercising rights. The law also accommodates individuals with disabilities unless the employer can show that doing so would create hardship. Disability doesn’t refer to things like sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, or substance abuse disorders resulting from current use of illegal drugs.
FEHA prohibits the following things:
- Employers may not require any medical/psychological examination/inquiry of any applicant or employee prior to making an offer of employment.
- An employer cannot inquire directly or indirectly as to whether an applicant or employee has a mental/physical disability or medical condition.
- An employer cannot inquire about the nature and severity of a mental/physical disability or medical condition.
What is reasonable accommodation and when does it come into play?
An employer should reasonably accommodate an employee or potential employee by taking all means necessary. The employer is required to interact with the employee and gather as much information as they can to aid them in the process of employment before they make a decision to reject the person for a job or any other important decision. An accommodation is a reasonable action if it doesn’t impose a hardship onto the employer’s business. This could include changing job duties or work hours, providing leave, relocating the work area, or providing mechanical or electrical aids.
What should you do if workplace discrimination takes place?
Within one year of discrimination taking place, an employee or job applicant can file a complaint with the DFEH by calling (800) 884-1648 FREE. The DFEH serves as a fact-finder and will attempt to help parties resolve their dispute. If there is sufficient evidence that discrimination took place, then the DFEH can file a lawsuit in civil court on behalf of the complaining party. Remedies can be made if discrimination occurs, such as hiring or reinstatement, back pay, promotion, changes in policies, damages for emotional distress, punitive damages, and reasonable attorney’s feed and costs.
Here are things that are not discriminatory:
- The person is not able to perform essential job functions.
- The person would create a danger to self or others by performing the job and no reasonable accommodation exists that would remove or reduce the danger (DFEH).
If you have fallen victim to workplace discrimination, you may have a case. You should know that, if you are discriminated or retaliated against, you can always seek the legal help of an attorney before you make any decisions to move forth with certain actions. You can call The RAWA Law Group today to speak to a trusted attorney about your case.
DFEH. Department of Fair Employment & Housing, 2015. Web. Accessed Dec 23, 2015. https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/res/docs/Publications/Brochures/2015/DFEH-184.pdf
FindLaw. FindLaw, 2015. Web. Accessed Dec 23, 2015. https://civilrights.findlaw.com/discrimination/the-americans-with-disabilities-act-overview.html