Disability Discrimination

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Disability Discrimination Lawyer in San Francisco

It is illegal for a California employer to discriminate against an employee based on a physical or mental disability. Further, California employers must provide reasonable accommodation for an employee’s or applicant’s disability unless such accommodation will result in an undue hardship to the employer. 

If you believe you have suffered disability discrimination in employment, you should contact a discrimination lawyer immediately. The law allows you to sue for damages in response to such discrimination.

Disability Discrimination in CA

California and federal laws protect a wide range of mental and physical disabilities. Mental disabilities include:

  • Bipolar or manic depressive disorder
  • Clinical depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Dementia
  • Intellectual disabilities, so long as you can perform the essential tasks of the job
  • Specific learning disabilities, so long as you can perform the essential tasks of the job

Mental disabilities do not include so-called impairments like sexual behavior disorders, compulsive gambling or stealing, pyromania, or impairments caused by drug or alcohol abuse. 

Physical disability under FEHA can include diseases or disfigurements that affect your body and limit major life activities. These can be a physiological disease, certain disorders or conditions, cosmetic disfigurement, or an anatomical loss such as an amputation. Specifically protected permanent and temporary conditions include:

  • Impaired eyesight, hearing, or speech
  • Chronic diseases
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV/AIDs
  • Diabetes
  • Loss of a limb
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Obesity, if involuntary

FEHA also includes the protections offered under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects you if::

  • have a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more major life activities;
  • have a record of having had such an impairment; or
  • are being treated as if you had such an impairment.

Understanding what a “major life activity” is is essential since most of your protections are triggered by interference with one or more of them. These are the day-to-day activities that fully abled persons take for granted as part of life. If you are disabled, you may be affected in:

  • Caring for yourself
  • Performing manual tasks
  • Seeing or hearing
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Walking or standing or bending
  • Lifting
  • Speaking or communicating 
  • Breathing
  • Learning or reading or concentrating on tasks
  • Thinking
  • Working 

Your major life activities also include the functioning of major body systems such as:

  • Immune system
  • Normal cell growth
  • Digestive, bowel, and bladder systems
  • Neurological and brain functions
  • Respiratory systems
  • Circulatory systems
  • Endocrine
  • Reproductive functions 

Most employers today are aware of these prohibitions. However, this awareness doesn’t mean there is no discrimination; it just means it’s harder to identify. Some of the signs to look for include the following:

  • Sudden changes in your job performance reviews after you become disabled
  • Exclusion from essential meetings and events
  • Change in work duties or workload increases after you become disabled
  • Reduced hours or reduced pay 
  • Different rules involving workers with disabilities
  • Making or failing to put a stop to jokes about disabilities in the workplace
  • Refusing to respond to complaints about any of the above

Speak with a California Disability Discrimination Attorney

Disability discrimination in the workplace is always concerning. All persons are entitled to the dignity of work and should not be subjected to discrimination. If you think you have been the victim of disability discrimination, contact an experienced disability discrimination lawyer in San Francisco from Olivier & Schrieber LLP to help you recover your appropriate damages.


(415) 484-0980


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