American workers with disabilities are protected from discrimination by both federal and state laws, most notably the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Together, these laws prohibit employers from discriminating against “qualified” individuals in any aspect of hiring, employment, or firing. By law, a “qualified” individual is one who can perform the essential duties and activities of a job, either with or without reasonable accommodations. Additionally, employers are required to provide “reasonable accommodations” for job applicants and employees who need them to complete essential functions of their employment.
If you believe an employer has treated you unfairly due to your disability, you could have grounds for legal action—and KJT Law Group can help. Based in Los Angeles, our disability discrimination attorneys represent workers throughout the Greater LA Area who have had their rights violated by employers or prospective employers. Our team is wholly committed to seeking justice on behalf of the wronged; we never represent businesses, corporations, or other employers in these cases. Instead, we are ready to devote all of our time, resources, and efforts to helping you seek the fair compensation you deserve.
Under the ADA, employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating based on disability, but the California FEHA prohibits disability-based discrimination for all employers with at least five employees. This applies to anyone who has a physical or mental disability, disabling medical condition, or perceived disability.
Physical disabilities include any impairments or limitations affecting the body or bodily functions. Examples of protected physical disabilities include hearing or vision impairments, amputation/loss of limb, speech impairments, cosmetic disfigurement, chronic diseases, HIV/AIDS, and more.
State and federal laws protect certain mental chronic mental disabilities, including clinical depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, cognitive impairments, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, dementia, and more.
Some medical conditions are considered physical and/or mental disabilities and, as such, are protected by law. Examples include pregnancy and childbirth, diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, and other temporary or permanent medical conditions that affect an individual’s ability to perform work-related duties with or without reasonable accommodations.
Employers are not only prohibited from discriminating against those with actual physical or mental disabilities or medical conditions but also those with perceived impairments or limitations. This means that an employer may not choose to pass over a job candidate based purely on a perceived disability, nor may they treat employees unfairly because of a perceived disability, regardless of whether the candidate or employee actually has a disability.
Generally speaking, mild and temporary disabilities with little or no long-term effects are not protected under state or federal disability discrimination laws.
Additionally, certain behavioral problems—such as gambling, unlawful substance abuse, and sexual behavior disorders, as well as kleptomania, pyromania, and alcohol or drug impairment—are not seen as disabilities.
California employers are required to provide disabled job candidates and employees with “reasonable accommodations,” but what exactly constitutes a reasonable accommodation? Essentially, a reasonable accommodation is any action or measure that does not unreasonably adversely affect the employer, and which allows the employee to perform the essential duties and/or functions of their employment.
Disability discrimination laws apply not only to employers and employees but also to hiring managers and job candidates. These laws guide what prospective employers can and cannot ask in interviews; improper interview questions may constitute discrimination, and you may have grounds for a case.
Additionally, prospective employers cannot require a medical or psychological examination when hiring new employees unless doing so is consistent with necessary functions of the job. For example, if you are applying for a job in an office, the hiring manager typically may not ask you to undergo a medical or psychological evaluation. However, certain jobs—such as firefighters and police officers—are permitted to require candidates to pass various examinations.