Disability Discrimination Attorney in Sherman Oaks, California
California often leads the nation in pioneering legislation to provide protections for its citizens, passing its first anti-discrimination bill in 1974. The federal government didn’t get fully into the act until 1990 with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 2000, California further expanded protections for the disabled.
If you have a disability, you have rights under both state and federal laws to request reasonable accommodations so you can fulfill the conditions of your employment. You are also protected against harassment and discrimination based on any perceived or real disability you may have.
If you’re in Sherman Oaks, California, or nearby in Northridge or Van Nuys, and you feel you’ve been discriminated against because of a disability — either in the hiring process or after joining the company — you can use the resources available to you to protect your rights. At The Sweeney Law Firm, APC, we stand ready to help you achieve the resolution you deserve under the law.
Definition of Disability
The ADA states that “A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning, or operation of a major bodily function).”
Under California law, as codified in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), disability is defined as an impairment that makes the performance of a major life activity “difficult.” A disability can be mental or physical or derive from a medical condition such as cancer.
Therefore, the standards for what comprises a disability in California are less stringent than the federal standards. In addition, while the ADA applies only to businesses with 15 or more employees, FEHA protections apply to businesses with just five or more employees.
What is Prohibited?
When a person is disabled or perceived to be disabled, various protections are guaranteed by both federal and state law.
For instance, during a job interview, an employer cannot question an applicant about any disability or physical limitation. Once a job offer is made, a prospective employee can be required to take a medical exam and answer various job-related questions, but only if the same exam and set of questions are required of all applicants — not just those who may fall into the category of disabled.
Once on the job, disabled employees cannot be harassed due to their disability, or discriminated against, such as being isolated away from others, or being denied training or advancement opportunities, being paid less than others in similar roles, or being denied benefits that others receive.
On the proactive side of both the California and U.S. statutes, employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation for disabled employees. This may include easier access to their workstation and bathroom facilities, adaptive technology for using communication and data devices, or anything else that would help them perform the duties of their job and enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.
Employers, however, can refuse — “defer” might be a better word — a reasonable accommodation if it presents an “undue hardship.” This may mean it is simply too expensive or too disruptive to the work environment. In this case, however, the employer must strive to find a reasonable accommodation that does work and does not pose an undue hardship.
Discrimination or Harassment
Both California and federal laws expect you to first seek administrative relief through their enforcement agencies. On the federal level, you must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and on the state level, with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
Both agencies will investigate and seek to conciliate matters to reach a resolution. In the process, they may impose mandates on the employer to remedy the situation. However, if conciliation fails, they may issue you a right-to-sue notice, which means you can then take the matter to court.
If you win your disability discrimination claim in court, you may be entitled to all lost wages — past and future — plus the value of benefits lost, along with compensation for your pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Trust an Experienced Law Firm
Filing with the EEOC and DFEH can be challenging and frustrating in terms of the time it takes for the investigation to unfold and for any resolution — or lack thereof — to be achieved. You don’t want to go it alone. With an experienced disability discrimination firm at your side, you can make sure all forms and supporting documentation are submitted with your complaint to expedite the process. At times, you may even be able to request a right-to-sue authorization even while the investigation is ongoing.
Remember, if you’re with a smaller employer, say five or so employees, you will need to seek relief under California law. If your employer is larger, with 15 or more employees, you can use the EEOC. California standards for what comprise disabilities also pose less of a legal hurdle to meet. An attorney can discuss your options with you.
Disability Discrimination Attorney
Serving Sherman Oaks, California
You don’t have to continue to suffer the effects of workplace discrimination in silence. If you’ve been the victim of disability discrimination in or around Sherman Oaks, California, or in the greater San Fernando Valley area, reach out to our disability discrimination team at The Sweeney Law Firm, APC, and let’s get working to stand up for your full rights.