Disability discrimination occurs when a person is harassed or otherwise discriminated against in the workplace because of a physical or mental disability. Both federal and California state law provide strict prohibitions against almost all types of discrimination based on an employee’s mental or physical disability in the workplace. Federal law Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits all private employers, employment agencies, state and local governments, and labor unions from discriminating against qualified persons with disabilities in a broad range of the employment process/practices, including in hiring, advancement, compensation, benefit dispensations, job training and all other conditions, terms and privileges of employment. The ADA is applicable to all employers, both public and private, with 15 or more employees. Under the ADA, a person is considered as having a disability if:
- They have a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity;
- This impairment has been recorded; or
- They are regarded as having a covered physical or mental impairment.
In Los Angeles, when an employee has a covered disability, an employer must make reasonable accommodations as long as doing so would not create an undue hardship on the employer’s business operation. Reasonable accommodations are modifications and adjustments that an employer can provide in order to enable disabled employees to receive and enjoy the benefits of equal employment opportunities.
Under California state law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the law that prohibits disability discrimination in the workplace. California provides legal protection for people with a wide range of disabilities. In fact, those employees who have either been diagnosed with HIV/AID or are perceived as having these medical conditions are protected under the FEHA. Though employers are prohibited from discrimination based on an employee/job applicant’s disability, there are certain situations where an employer can discriminate against an employee without violation the FEHA. These situations include when an employer is able to prove that:
- The employee/job applicant will not be able to perform essential job functions because of their disability; and no reasonable accommodations exist that would allow the person to successfully perform the essential job functions; or
- Substantial and imminent danger would be created for the person or others if the disabled person performed the job, and no reasonable accommodations can be taken to decrease or remove the danger.
Disability Discrimination and Hostile Work Environment Claims in LA
Hostile work environment claims can be brought both under the ADA and under the FEHA. Hostile work environment claims allege that the harassment because of a person’s disability has been such as to create a workplace environment that is hostile, abusive and disadvantageous to any person who is being harassed because of their disability. Harassment includes all types of verbal, physical and visual harassment that is based on a person’s actual or perceived disability. To establish a hostile work environment claim in California you must show that:
- You were either an job applicant, employee or person who provided services pursuant to a contract with the employer;
- You experienced unwanted harassment because of a perceived or actual disability;
- The harassment was so persistent that a reasonable person with a similar disability/circumstance would have considered the environment to be hostile;
- You considered the workplace to be abusive and hostile;
- The employer either participated in the harassment or should have known it was occurring; and
- You experienced actual harm as a result of the harassment
Los Angeles, California Employment Law Attorneys: Providing Top-Notch Legal Representation in Discrimination Suits
Are you disabled and feel that you have been harassed or otherwise discriminated against in the workplace? Are you an employer who has recently been sued for overseeing a hostile work environment? If so, you should make sure to contact the exceptional employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Los Angeles, California.