California provides protections to employees who are required to take leave due to a protected disability or medical condition. An individual is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that causes substantial limitations on one or more major life activities. In California, employers are prohibited from physical disability discrimination in hiring, promotion, pay, or other employment-related decisions. Los Angeles employees with qualifying disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations from their employers so long as those accomodations do not cause the employer undue hardship. These protections extend even if the employer mistakenly believes the employee has a disability and treats that employee differently.

For example, an officer worker should not be terminated because they cannot sit for long periods  due to a disability if the employee could have still performed their job functions by standing. Allowing the employee an accommodation, and an employer can be found liable for failing to prove that an accommodation was unduly burdensome or by requiring an employee to be 100% healed before returning to work. Rather, employers must engage in an “interactive process” to determine what the job limitations are, identifying potential accommodations, and assessing effectiveness. A failure to engage in this process is a separate Fair Employment & Housing Act violation independent of an employer’s failure to provide disability discrimination.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a pivotal civil rights law enacted in 1990. It prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunities for disabled people in all aspects of life, including employment. The ADA defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits one or more major life activities, a record of impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces Title I. Enforcement can include investigating complaints, providing assistance, litigating employment discrimination cases, and mediation services to help resolve disputes.

Employment: Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Congress divided the ADA into five pertinent sections, called “titles.” Title I focuses on employment disability discrimination. This section is crucial to promote equal opportunities for disabled individuals, ensuring they have fair access to jobs and an inclusive work environment. 

Title I protects qualified individuals with disabilities, meaning people with an ADA-defined disability who can perform the essential functions of their job or the job they are applying for with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential functions are principal job duties and don’t include duties that are not critical to the job. 

Title I applies to private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees with 15 or more employees. It covers all areas of employment, including job application procedures, hiring, promotions, compensation, training, and termination.

Critical ADA Title I Employment Provisions 

Key provisions of Title I that protect California employee rights are as follows:

  • Accommodations – Title I requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified disabled individuals unless it would result in undue hardship on the employer’s business. Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments to the work environment, the job application process, or how an employee typically performs the job that enables them to perform essential job functions.
  • Undue Hardship – an employer is not required to provide reasonable accommodations if it would impose an undue hardship, defined as a significant difficulty or expense. Factors that determine whether an accommodation is an undue hardship include the type and cost of the accommodation, the employer’s size and financial resources, and the accommodation’s impact on the business’s overall operations.
  • Confidentiality – Title I requires employers to confidentially maintain an employee’s medical information, including disability-related information. Employers must keep this information separate from general personnel files and can only disclose it under certain circumstances, for example, to supervisors who are implementing accommodations or to first aid personnel in an emergency.
  • Retaliation and coercion – Title I prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for asserting their rights under the ADA or participating in an ADA-related investigation or proceeding. It also prohibits employers from coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering with an individual’s exercise of their ADA rights.

Overall, Title I of the ADA is essential in preventing physical disability discrimination and promoting equal opportunities and inclusive work environments for disabled people. Protecting against discrimination ensures disabled employees can contribute to a workforce free of prejudice or unnecessary barriers.

In a case that we had recently, an employee suffered a broken foot. Her doctor restricted her from driving to work. Her employer terminated her, in turn, for excessive absenteeism and refusing to come to work. However, we argued this was not only disability discrimination and wrongful termination, but also a failure to accommodate and to engage in a good faith interactive process. While the employer made a good point that the employee could technically work in the office if she made it there, the employer did not work with the employee to get her to the work site.

Specifically, the employer did not offer to pay for the employee’s rides to and from work, offer to provide the employee with rides, or otherwise organize rides for her. The employer also failed to discuss with the employee the potential of performing work from home until she could do her job or giving her time off to recover. Rather, the employer essentially degraded the employee for her injury. We obtained a six-digit recovery for what we argued was discrimination, retaliation, and harassment against the employee caused only by her broken foot.

We Hold Employers Accountable. We Want To Help

Tomorrow Law™ is devoted to recovering the wages you are owed, and compensating you for any loss that your employer has caused. A legal expert from our Los Angeles employment attorneys can get your case started with a free initial consultation today. Our contingency fee basis ensures that you will never pay out-of-pocket, meaning you do not have to pay any fees unless you win or recover compensation.

Don’t wait – there are statutes of limitations, or time restrictions that affect how long you have to address your claim. Contact the team at Tomorrow Law™ at 323-741-4479.

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