Can Disability Affect Employment In California?

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

Disability Discrimination: Your Employment Rights In California

Compared to other states, California has more employee and worker rights than most. These employment rights cover protection from discrimination for several worker characteristics, like age, race, sex, gender, etc. In this post, we'll talk about how disability plays into your employment rights, your employer's responsibility to uphold those rights, and the consequences of employers failing to do so.


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Defining "Disability" In California Employment Law


Basically, an employee is considered disabled when they have a condition that can impede everyday functions. These functions can include breathing, walking, speaking, moving, etc.


Disabilities are categorized as the following:

  1. Physical. Any physiological illness, ailment, condition, aesthetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affects one or more bodily systems and interferes with major life activities.

  2. Mental. Learning impairments, organic brain syndrome, mental or emotional sickness, or unique learning impediments are examples of mental or psychological illnesses or conditions that limit a significant life activity.

  3. Other medical issues. Any health issue resulting from or linked to a cancer diagnosis, a cancer record or history, or inherited traits.

Depending on your case, your accommodations and other benefits will vary. If you need someone to discuss the legalities of your specific condition, contact a prescreened California Employment Law Attorney.


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What Constitutes Disability Discrimination?


Disability discrimination occurs when an employer does any of the two:

  • Makes employment decisions based on prejudice against a disabled employee

  • Fails to provide reasonable accommodations for a disabled employee

Employment Decisions Should Not Be Affected By Disability Discrimination


When an employer makes hiring decisions based on their prejudice against a disabled employee, this is an example of discrimination. These employment decisions include everything from hiring to firing.

Here are some instances of job decisions that could be considered discriminatory because of a disability:

  1. The refusal to hire a candidate. You may claim disability discrimination if an employer or hiring team refuses to hire you despite being an eligible applicant despite your disabilities.

  2. Refusal to promote a hired disabled employee. Biased employers may overlook disabled employees for promotions, even if they are more worthy than their coworkers. This prevents a disabled employee from rising through the ranks of the company.

  3. Reports/complaints are met with retaliation. A retaliatory act rooted in discrimination occurs when you report an incident of discrimination to HR and your supervisor punishes you (i.e., demotion, suspension, reassignment, etc.) to get back at you. For Employment Retaliation cases, you should also consult a California Labor Law Attorney.

  4. Wrongful termination of a disabled employee. Employers are forbidden from terminating an employee because of their disability, whether out of retaliation or discrimination. If you believe your firing resulted from discrimination, you may want to consider filing a Wrongful Termination Claim.

Employer Should Provide Reasonable Accommodations To Disabled Employees


Disabled workers have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodations. However, a reluctance or unwillingness to accommodate a capable employee may impact their ability to work.

Here are some examples of non-accommodation:

  • Failure to create wheelchair ramps or reluctance to do so

  • Lack of more comfortable seats and seating configurations

  • Access to basic requirements is denied (i.e., water stations, bathrooms)

  • Not allowing an employee with heightened symptoms to take a work leave

  • Not allowing a disabled employee location adjustments (i.e., allowing them to work from home during difficulties when physical presence isn't necessary)

Remember that if you don't make a request, the company isn't liable if you don't get it. Hence, if you need any accommodations, you must first approach your HR or employer and file a formal request for it.

There might be instances where employers intentionally delay or make the process of requesting accommodations as difficult for disabled employees as possible. When this happens, hire a prescreened California Employment Labor Lawyer to help you build a case, prepare evidence, and get ready to file complaints to the proper agencies.


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What Is The Deadline For Filing Discrimination Claims In California?

You have a year from the date of the most recent discriminatory incident to file a complaint. If it is a case of Wrongful Termination, you have two years.

If you have a claim for discrimination in California, you should first contact the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). They can either take care of the case for you or offer you "the right to sue," allowing you to file your claims with a California Employment Law Attorney.


The deadlines for public entities are varied. In some cases, the statute of limitations could be six months.

Find A California Employment Law Attorney Near Me


Legal battles can be costly. However, that doesn't mean there aren't lawyers willing to give contingencies. Gency.org can help you find a Contingency Lawyer for your Employment Claims in California. No win, no fees!

Complete our submission form for a free case review.

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