A recent ruling from the California Court of Appeal, Brown v. Los Angeles Unified School District, about being “sick to Wi-Fi” established a physical ability under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The plaintiff was an LAUSD teacher who claimed chronic pain and other symptoms caused by the school’s new Wi-Fi system. Furthermore, the trial court sustained LAUSD’s allegation to Brown’s complaint that alleged discrimination based on physical disability, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, and failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
The Court of Appeal upheld disposing of four of the five claims based on the allegation that the plaintiff failed to declare sufficient facts to support the claims. All the same, the Court of Appeal held that Brown sufficiently declare a physical disability under the FEHA, even though other courts have held that Wi-Fi sickness is not a recognized disability under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), as a matter of pleading, Brown adequately declare claim for failure to accommodate.
California employers must recognize that FEHA provides more worker protection than the ADA, and although Wi-Fi sickness is not a recognized disability under the ADA, to FEHA when its claimed symptoms affect one or more people and limit the plaintiff’s ability to work, then it is considered a physical disability.
This case has left employers bewildered, wondering whether a reasonable accommodation is possible when an employee claims such sickness. Almost all business establishments operate their services with Wi-Fi, however, functioning without it especially with remote workers highlights the importance of the interactive process and accommodations. The ruling for this proceeding is a good reminder that technology constantly adds new complications to the workplace and ridiculous it may be, it may land employers in court.
Our Los Angeles employment attorneys have over two decades of experience fighting for employee rights and Mesriani Law Group can help you get the justice you deserve, regardless of how ridiculous it may be as long as it is proven just. Give our office a call and speak to one of our attorneys about your potential case.