Articles Posted in disability discrimination

A jury in Los Angeles awarded a former police officer in South Pasedena $4.8 million following a two-week trial involving allegations of wrongful termination and disability discrimination.disability discrimination

The Los Angeles Times reported the 18-year veteran on the force was fired for alleged dishonesty, but jurors agreed with him that the true reason was his diagnosis of attention-deficit/ hyperactive disorder (ADHD). The former chief of police (who retired prior to plaintiff’s termination) described plaintiff not only as a good man, but as the “best” on the force when it came to community policing.  However, the chief said the city refused to allow plaintiff reasonable accommodations when it came to the challenges he faced when writing reports due to his condition. The former top cop also testified his replacement in that role was supportive of the recommendation made by a captain on the force who had been campaigning to have plaintiff fired.

The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment states in 2CCR Section 11065 that the term “disability” as it relates to employees is intended to be broadly construed, and can mean mental disabilities (including conditions like autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorders and PTSD), physical disabilities that limit major life activities or impact one or more major body systems. It can also mean conditions like blindness, deafness, partially or wholly missing limbs, mobility impairments, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, diabetes and other conditions. The list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but but it does exclude conditions like substance abuse disorders, gambling, sexual behavior disorders or mild conditions like sprains, strains, the flue, etc. One can also be protected from having “perceived disability,” meaning the worker is regarded or treated as having a mental or physical condition or adverse genetic information.

As our disability discrimination attorneys know, state law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to workers or applicants who have a disability, unless doing so would result in an “undue hardship” – either expense or significant difficulty – for the employer. Continue reading

Nobody enjoys being fired. Although California is not a right-to-work state, employers still have much freedom when it comes to termination of workers. Supporters of right to work laws opine they protect prospective employees who want a job but do not belong to a union.  Although there was certainly a time when it was difficult to get into in a union, that’s generally no longer the case and membership is encouraged.  The truth of the matter is these laws were designed to allow employers the freedom to fire workers for any reason they want and also to avoid having to deal with unions.

OC Employment attorneyThe reason many employers disfavor unions is because workers have strength in numbers. When they join a union, workers are invested with greater power to negotiate collective bargaining agreements that cause employers to give workers more protection than the base requirements afforded by the law.

Workers who seek to unionize may find themselves facing termination. You can discuss your rights with an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney.

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California law protects workers with mental and physical disabilities. The law defines a physical disability as any disease, disorder, condition disfigurement or anatomical loss which limits a major life activity. Workers who suffer from physical disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations which will enable them to perform their job duties. When employers refuse to provide reasonable accommodations, employees have legal claims against that employer. Disability discrimination is a very real problem for many California workers.employment law attorneys

But what legal rights does an employee have for mild medical conditions? Mild – but chronic – medical conditions can still interfere with an employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties. When this happens, the employee is still entitled to reasonable accommodations. The failure to do so subjected the California Department of Transportation (“CalTrans”) to a judgement of over $3 million. Continue reading

Age discrimination is prohibited by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which shields workers 40-and-older from suffering discrimination in any aspect of employment on the basis of older age. Disability discrimination violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, which protects workers from unfavorable treatment due to either a history of disability (i.e., cancer that is in remission or controlled) or a belief that one has a non-transitory physical or mental impairment (whether or not that belief is founded). employment attorney

Recently, an oil drilling company in Oklahoma was served with a complaint from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging the company violating both the ADEA and the ADA. The company allegedly refused to hire applicants who were either over 40 or who had a history of filing claims for benefits under workers’ compensation insurance.

The EEOC alleges the company used the information gleaned from applications for employment in order to carry out the discrimination. The employment lawsuit also seeks compensation for a specific applicant who was required to undergo a post-offer medical examination. Based on the findings of that examination, the company withdrew its job offer. Both the act of compelling the exam and withdrawing the job offer on the basis of that exam were unlawful, the EEOC asserts.  Continue reading

California is considered an at-will employment state. This means that, for the most part, an employer can fire an employee for any reason at any time without regard to the employee’s past or present conduct.  This means that an employer can fire an exemplary employee without even giving a reason.  On the flip side of that coin, an employee can quit at any time for any reason and does not even have to a give a reason.

employment discrimination Riverside However, there are certain limitations to this general rule, meaning that some cases of firing an employee will constitute a wrongful termination.  One of the situations in which an employer may not be able to fire an employee without cause, as discussed in a recent news article from Inquirer.Net, is when the employer and the employee have entered into a contractual relationship that requires good cause to terminate an employee. Continue reading

The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that workers or applicants not be discriminated against on the basis of a disability, so long as the worker is able to perform the essential functions of the job with reasonable modifications. This is not a blanket requirement that companies accept all workers with disabilities. The caveat that workers must be able to perform essential functions is crucial.headset

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pointed out in a recent opinion, “The reality is there are some jobs that a person with disabilities are simply unable to perform.” That was deemed to be the case for plaintiff in this instance.

According to court records, plaintiff worked for a telecommunications firm in Tennessee at a call center, where her job as a customer service representative involved answering incoming calls and helping customers with billing and technical support problems. In order to answer those calls, plaintiff had to be physically present at her workstation and logged into the computer. She worked eight-hour shifts, and rotated every six months. During these shifts, customer service representatives had to remain at their work stations, except to use the restroom, to take a half-hour lunch and two pre-scheduled 15-minute breaks. There was no requirement for a per-day minimum, but most representatives generally took on 40 to 50 calls per shift.  Continue reading

A man with autism has filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against a fast-food restaurant chain and its parent company, alleging he was denied a job due to his disability.foodservice

The lawsuit, filed in Illinois where the incident occurred, alleges the 25-year-old had recently completed a work-study program at a different restaurant in late 2013. The manager who oversaw his duties reported he worked capably and diligently, but the employment ended when the work-study program had finished. At that point, plaintiff hired a job coach to help him find a full-time job. The following summer, both he and his job coach went to a Chick-Fil-A restaurant and requested an application for employment. At the time, the manager was not available.

Later, the job coach went back to the restaurant and talked to the manager. It was at that time she allegedly informed the job coach that the restaurant was, “Not interested in hiring people with disabilities,” adding that those with challenges such as what plaintiff faced “do not succeed” in their company atmosphere. Continue reading

The nation’s largest chain retailer is facing a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a former employee with Down syndrome, who had worked for the company for 15 years prior. shoppingcart

Of course, disability discrimination isn’t limited to those who have this diagnosis, but it is one of the more visible conditions. Most people can tell right away when someone has the condition, and it’s often used as a basis to deny employment or refuse advancement opportunities – even in cases where the individual is qualified for the essential functions of the job. In fact, employment discrimination of people with Down syndrome was common until fairly recently. Much of these discriminatory actions are based on misinformation and prejudice.

Down syndrome is a genetic chromosome 21 disorder that causes a wide range of developmental delays and disabilities. Those who have Down syndrome share a distinct facial appearance, and generally all have some level of intellectual disability and developmental delays. They may also suffer from thyroid or heart disease. But again, it is a range. Although some with Down syndrome suffer profound disabilities, others are more than capable to work and live independently. Companies that discriminate against these workers solely on the basis of their condition can face legal consequences, including a court order to pay both compensatory and punitive damages.  Continue reading

Retail giant Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $75,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit that was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the company allegedly broke federal discrimination laws in its treatment of a worker who had survived cancer.checkout

According to the EEOC, the worker was employed at a store in Illinois. After successfully undergoing treatment for cancer, she suffered some limitations that required accommodation at work. However, the retail company is accused of not extending her those accommodations and further not addressing harassment against her. In order to continue working, plaintiff needed a modified schedule and a chair. Management worked out a modified schedule fora time, but later revoked it without stating why. The store also refused to provide a chair in plaintiff’s work area, explaining she would have to be responsible for hauling the chair over from the furniture department to the area where she worked – a task that was next to impossible given her physical limitations. On top of this, plaintiff endured cruel remarks from a co-worker who went unpunished after calling her names like, “chemo brain” and, “cripple.”

This kind of alleged conduct is a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which strictly bars discrimination against workers based on their disability. Discrimination can include the denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation to the employee. It can also mean subjecting them to a work environment that is hostile. Continue reading

Many companies – particularly those that serve or sell any kind of food or beverages – may have strict policies about when and where employees can consume those goods and how they must pay for them. However, there may be some cases when a physical condition or illness may necessitate a reasonable accommodation that deviates from such policies. This was the case in EEOC v. Dolgen corp, LLC, dba Dollar General Corporation, recently before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.orange juice

The worker in this case was a cashier who was also a diabetic who was insulin-dependent. This condition is also referred to as Type 1 diabetes, and it occurs when the body fails to produce insulin, which is the hormone the body needs to get glucose – the simple sugar used for energy, derived from sugars and starches. A condition called hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, can arise when the level of glucose in the bloodstream drops below normal. Symptoms can range from being shaky to dizzy to weak or irritable to losing consciousness or having seizures. It can even be deadly if not treated right away.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, plaintiff had previously informed her supervisor that she was a diabetic and asked on several occasions that her supervisor let her keep a sugary drink, such as juice, near the register to help prevent a hypoglycemic episode. Her supervisor would later testify at trial that it was company policy not to allow cashiers to keep any food or drinks near the register, as it did not allow “grazing” by cashiers. However, the company did have a reasonable accommodation policy that could have allowed the worker to keep her drink near the register. Problem was that for whatever reason, the workers at this particular store – including the management – were unaware of this policy.  Continue reading