Disability Discrimination

Bay Area Disability Discrimination Attorneys

Your Employer Can Not Discriminate Against You Due to a Disability

Disability discrimination is just one of many types of unjust or prejudicial treatments employees face on the job and that we fight in court. For more about our Employment Law legal services, please see our “Bay Area Employment Law Attorney” page. Or for other types of employee work-related issues we fight for our clients, see the links to the right.

It is illegal in California to discriminate against persons with both “physical” and “mental” disabilities.  Anti-discrimination laws cover not only certain enumerated disabilities but also any physical or mental health condition that limits a major life activity.

Most people have heard of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), but most are unaware that California’s disability law provides far greater protections to workers that are deemed “disabled.”  If you qualify as disabled under the broader California law, you have important legal rights, which our firm can help protect and defend.  Your employer cannot refuse to hire you, demote, or fire you, or treat you unfairly because of your disability, and may also have to make special work arrangements to help you do your job.  

It is illegal in California to discriminate against persons because of either “physical” or “mental” disabilities.  Anti-discrimination laws cover not only certain enumerated disabilities but also any physical or mental health condition that limits a major life activity.

Disability Definitions

“Physical disabilities” include, but are not limited to, any physiological and anatomical conditions that affect certain body conditions and limit an individual’s ability to participate in major life activities.  If you can prove that you have certain illnesses, they automatically qualify as a disability because they are deemed as a matter of law to “limit a major life activity.” They include: multiple sclerosis, chronic or episodic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, hepatitis, epilepsy, and seizure disorder.  

If you can prove other conditions, they may qualify as “physical disabilities,” depending on their severity, and include, but are not limited to: hypertension and high blood pressure, back conditions that impair working or other major life activities, obesity caused by a physiological or systematic condition, polio, hypersensitivity to tobacco smoke, or any other physical condition that requires special education or related services.  Also, an employee who is perceived to have or have had a disability may sue for disability discrimination.

“Mental disabilities” are similarity defined to include any mental or psychological disorder that “limits a major life activity.” Certain conditions, once proven, are automatically presumed to be “mental disabilities.” These include, but not limited to, clinical depression and bipolar disorder.  If you can prove other conditions, they are considered “mental disabilities,” as long as they “limit a major life activity.”  For example, specific learning disabilities, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or any other mental or psychological condition that requires special education or related services.

What do I do if I have a physical or mental disability that is protected?  

It is best to first negotiate with your employer by presenting a strong and convincing case to honor your rights, with an admonition that, if the employer refuses to honor your rights, they will likely lose in court and will have to pay you monetary damages.  Sometimes a letter from an attorney on your behalf informing the employer of your disability and requesting certain reasonable “accommodations” such as less lifting or bending over, more rest or sitting, better work ergonomics, additional or longer breaks, or a ramp, may be sufficient to allow you to return from disability leave or to permit you to continue working productively despite your disability.  A well-written letter lays the groundwork for a future legal action for monetary damages if the employer acts unreasonably in denying the disability.    

What is unlawful discrimination on the basis of a disability?

Your employer is required by law to make reasonable accommodations to help you do your job if you are disabled.  However, employers are not required to make accommodations if these accommodations would unreasonably disrupt or burden their business.  For instance, a grocery store would be required to permit a cashier to sit at the register or take more frequent breaks due to a leg condition, but a truck company would not have to retain a driver suffering from a condition that would make driving dangerous, though the truck company may be required to provide the driver with an alternate position that does not require driving if such a position is available and the employee is otherwise qualified.   

You cannot be harassed or discriminated against at work due to a disability.

Harassment is generally defined as persistent and pervasive ridicule.  A person who is regularly teased at work or called names because, for example, they suffer from PTSD, walk with a limp, or wear a hearing aid, could be suffering from unlawful harassment based on their disability.  The more offensive the ridicule, the fewer incidents are required to make is persistent and pervasive.  

Discrimination means treating the disabled worker differently (i.e., worse) because they have a disability.  This means that you are denied a job or a promotion, or are terminated and the primary reason for this adverse employment action is that you are disabled.

Don’t Let It Happen to You. We Can Help.

The law protect workers with a disability.  If your employer refuses to provide you with reasonable accommodations to help you do your job while disabled, or the employer harasses or discriminates against you, the law is on your side. You can take legal action against your employer to right this wrong.  Venardi Zurada LLP is a law firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area. We are experienced and effective attorneys who work on a contingency basis meaning that you do not pay us until we recover money for you.  We offer free consultations to evaluate whether or not you have a legal claim based on your disability.

GET A FREE CASE REVIEW

If you are an employee who feels their rights have been violated, or you need help negotiating or reviewing your employee contract, please call to speak to one of our expert employment law attorneys at (935) 937-3900 or submit the form to the right.

When litigation or mediation is involved, and we are able to take your case, there is never any fee or expense to you of any kind until you get paid! That means we pay all litigation costs which you will not be required to pay back, and we only get paid if you get paid.

We have four offices to serve you in San Francisco, Oakland, San Rafael and Walnut Creek, and serve clients throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area including the entire Silicon Valley and throughout California.