What Type of Disabilities Are Protected at Work?

Author: Mesriani Law Group
Posted on: September 23, 2020

California job applicants and employees are protected against discrimination at work based on a disability. State laws such as the worker The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the Disabled Persons Act, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act ensure individuals with disabilities are treated fairly in the workplace.

Employers must evaluate all qualified job candidates regardless of their perceived or actual disabilities. Additionally, employers can’t ask about the nature or severity of the disability nor can they require applicants to take a psychological or medical exam that is not routinely given to other candidates.

In California, a disability is broadly defined as a condition that limits a major life activity. In addition to physical and mental conditions, employment laws also protect medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS or cancer.

Physical Disabilities  

A physical disability can include any condition, disorder, physiological disease, anatomical loss, or cosmetic disfigurement. Physical disabilities affect one or more body systems such as cardiovascular, reproductive, respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal, immunological, hemic and lymphatic, or endocrine and skin systems.

Physical disabilities also include any health impairment that requires special education.

Mental Disabilities 

Mental disabilities include any psychological or mental condition such as emotional or mental illness, intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, or specific learning disabilities that limits a major life activity. Disability discrimination laws protect individuals with mental disabilities including but not limited to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and clinical depression.

Medical Conditions

A medical condition is a health impairment that can include illness, disease, or genetic characteristics. One of the most commonly discriminated against medical conditions is cancer.

For example, employers may assume that an employee with cancer cannot perform the job or will take too much sick time off.  However, employers are typically required to make reasonable accommodations that will allow employees with medical conditions to fulfill their essential job duties unless it creates an undue hardship for the employer.

Reasonable Accommodations

California employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled worker. However, if providing reasonable accommodation would cause the employer undue hardship, then the employer may be exempted.

Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications that enables a job applicant to have equal opportunity to be considered for a job. For an employee, reasonable accommodations are modifications that enable them to perform the essential functions of the job.

Examples of reasonable accommodation include making a facility easily accessible by individuals with disabilities or allowing employees to bring an assistive animal to work. Other examples include transferring an employee to a more accessible worksite, restructuring of job duties to eliminate non-essential tasks, or providing a modified work schedule.

Contact a Los Angeles Disability Discrimination Lawyer Today

California employees deserve to work in an environment free from discrimination. If you’ve experienced any kind of physical, mental, or medical discrimination at work, you have the right to file a claim against those at fault. An experienced disability discrimination lawyer will fight for your rights and can help get you the justice you deserve. Contact Mesriani Law Group today to speak with an attorney about your potential case.