For employees with disabilities, having an accessible, inclusive workplace can make all the difference in being able to maximize their contributions. However, many still face discriminatory barriers to equal employment opportunities. A knowledgeable disability discrimination lawyer can be an invaluable ally in protecting your rights.
At TONG LAW, we have seen firsthand how vital it is for employees with disabilities to have strong legal advocacy. Discrimination takes many forms, from failure to provide reasonable accommodations to outright harassment and wrongful termination. Yet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and other laws offer important protections. With an experienced California disability discrimination lawyer on your side, you can stand up to unjust treatment in the workplace.
Disability Workplace Discrimination Protections
Protections against disability discrimination in the workplace extend further than many employers realize. Landmark federal law, along with expansive California statutes, prohibits discriminatory practices against a wide range of employees with disabilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides the baseline for disability discrimination laws across the country. Under the ADA, any private or public employer with 15 or more employees is required to provide equal employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities.
An individual is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as walking, seeing, hearing, or learning. The law also covers disabilities that may be in remission or that only impact certain facets of a person’s life. If an employer regards an employee as having a disability or the employee has a known history of disability, those individuals are also protected by the ADA.
California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
California state law creates even broader anti-discrimination protections than federal requirements. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) extends safeguards against disability discrimination to all workers at companies with 5 or more employees. FEHA recognizes an extensive, growing list of covered disabilities, including physical, mental, and developmental conditions. Currently, FEHA provides protections based on over 300 categories of mental and physical disabilities, covering conditions ranging from blindness to PTSD and more.
Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to allow workers with any of these disabilities to carry out the fundamental duties of their position. With expansive state and federal disability discrimination laws on the books, California workplaces have a clear mandate to foster accessible, inclusive environments.
What Constitutes Illegal Disability Discrimination in the Workplace?
Disability discrimination can manifest in diverse forms within a workplace. Under California and federal law, discriminatory acts that create barriers or hostile conditions for employees with disabilities are prohibited.
One common issue is an employer’s failure to make reasonable accommodations. Accommodations are modifications or support that allow an employee to carry out the essential functions of their job despite disability-related limitations. Potential accommodations may include altered work schedules, assistive equipment, workplace policy adjustments, reassignment, and more. Denying reasonable accommodations constitutes discrimination when the accommodations would not impose excessive difficulty or expense on the employer.
Disability harassment occurs when employees face offensive remarks, intimidation, social exclusion, or abuse related to their disability. These behaviors undermine job performance and subject employees to an abusive atmosphere.
Additionally, many clients experience overt discrimination in hiring, promotion, compensation, and wrongful termination decisions based on disability. Treating employees differently due to perceptions of higher costs or inconveniences associated with their disability is unlawful.
Proving a Disability Discrimination Claim
Successfully pursuing a disability discrimination claim takes carefully building a case step by step. At TONG LAW, our first priority is sitting down with clients to listen and understand their experiences. From there, we gather documentation, such as:
- Medical records substantiating the disability from doctors, therapists, or vocational experts. Eyewitnesses can also validate observable symptoms.
- Written warnings, demotions, or termination notices pointing to adverse employment actions.
- Performance reviews and qualifications demonstrating you could fulfill essential job duties, with or without reasonable accommodations.
- Accounts of harassment, details about denied accommodations requests, and other testimony supporting the discrimination claim.
Thorough evidence is crucial to proving you are a qualified individual who suffered discrimination based on disability.
Leveraging the Benefits of Inclusion to Build Your Case
While not all companies initially recognize it, building inclusive work cultures that minimize barriers for employees with disabilities carries tangible benefits. Reasonable accommodations empower employees to fully contribute based on their abilities. Accessible workplaces also widen the talent pool.
Most importantly, California law requires providing equal opportunities for employees with disabilities. Failure to foster an inclusive environment that facilitates success for all employees is considered unlawful discrimination.
When employers understand how inclusive policies align with legal and ethical requirements, they may be more willing to implement changes voluntarily through negotiation.
If negotiations with your employer fail to provide reasonable accommodations for your disability, you can use their denial as evidence to support your discrimination claim. Demonstrating how modest accommodations can aid your performance makes clear the company’s obligations under California law. Refusal to provide an accessible environment implicitly shows an unwillingness to provide equal opportunities.
Your Rights Demand Strong Legal Advocacy. Contact TONG LAW Today.
If you have suffered disability discrimination in a California workplace, you deserve justice. But you don’t have to bear the burden alone. An experienced employment attorney at TONG LAW is ready to stand with you. We are firmly committed to protecting your rights and fighting for the inclusive, accessible workplace you deserve.
Don’t wait to get the legal advocacy you need on your side. Every day of unlawful treatment causes additional harm. Together, we can pursue the maximum compensation and workplace changes you are entitled to under California law. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. Make the first step toward the equal opportunities you deserve with TONG LAW as your ally. Your rights matter – we’re ready to prove it.