What Constitutes Discrimination And What Can Be Done About It?
According to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees or prospective employees for reasons such as those listed below. Both California and federal law make it illegal for employers to take adverse action against employees based on factors such as the following:
- Race or color; ancestry or national origin
- Age or disability, mental and physical
- Sex or gender; sexual orientation
- Pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related physical conditions
- Medical condition
If you decide to take legal action after experiencing discrimination, you typically have one year from a verifiable instance of discriminatory termination, demotion or refusal to hire to obtain a right-to-sue letter from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. You then have one year from the date that letter is issued to file your case.
What If I’ve Been Discriminated Against For A Physical Disability?
Both California and federal law make it illegal for employers to take adverse action against employees because of their disabilities or medical conditions. Employers cannot refuse to reasonably accommodate or refuse to engage in a good-faith interactive process with disabled employees to determine what accommodations are needed.
These laws protect employees who are actually disabled and employees who are merely perceived as being disabled. Therefore, even if an employee has no actual disability, the employer may still be liable if they mistakenly believe the employee is disabled and treat him or her unfavorably because of it.
If you have a physical or mental disability or a serious medical condition and your employer refuses to grant you reasonable accommodations (such as a medical leave of absence, flexible hours, temporary light-duty work or job restructuring) then you may have a cause of action against them.
How Should Employers Accommodate Employees With Disabilities?
Once your employer becomes aware that you have a medical condition or disability, they are obligated under the law to engage in a good-faith interactive process with you in order to determine what accommodations you may need and if they can provide them. The term “good faith” means that your employer must promptly and honestly discuss your available options and that they cannot simply “go through the motions” or arbitrarily deny your requests.
If you can still perform the essential functions of your job with or without the accommodations, your employer must grant them unless they can prove it would be an unreasonable financial burden for them to do so. Therefore, it is important that you know the essential functions of your job and that you receive a list of essential functions from your employer that accurately reflects them.
At The Velez Law Firm, PC, our attorneys have extensive experience litigating discrimination cases of all types. If you believe you have been discriminated against because of a physical disability or for reasons such as age, gender or veteran status, please contact us immediately.
How Can I Prove I Have Been Discriminated Against?
If you have a disability or medical condition and have experienced one of the following, you may have a viable discrimination claim.
- You have been terminated, demoted, denied a promotion, reassigned to an unfavorable job or location or denied employment due to your medical condition or disability.
- Your employer takes your medical condition or disability into account in punishing or terminating you (example: firing you for being late to work because you have a sleep disorder or other medical condition).
- You have been denied medical leave or accommodations by your employer.
- Your employer knows of your condition and does not discuss accommodations with you.
- Your employer knows of your condition and does not provide you with information about your right to take medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
- Your employer retaliates by terminating you after or during a medical leave of absence.
What Damages Can I Recover After Experiencing Discrimination?
If we win your on-the-job discrimination claim for you, California and federal laws allow for you to recover some or all of these types of compensation as follows:
- Economic damages, including compensation for wages and other monetary benefits you would have received if the unlawful discrimination had not happened.
- Emotional distress damages, including compensation for emotional pain and suffering and mental anguish that were caused by acts of discrimination, such as demotion, harassment or wrongful termination.
- Punitive damages, with limits of $50,000 to $300,000, depending on the number of people working for an employer that imposed or allowed malicious or reckless acts of discrimination.
- Attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses and court costs.
What Should I Do To Get My Claim Started?
If you believe you have been discriminated against, contact The Velez Law Firm, PC, to set up a free consultation. We are available to help you determine whether you have a case and take steps in the direction of justice.