San Francisco Disability Discrimination Lawyer

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Millions of Americans have disabilities. Just because someone suffers from a physical or mental condition or illness does not mean they are incapable of work. With proper accommodations provided, employees with disabilities who can perform the essential functions of their jobs, do as well or better than their peers who are not disabled.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that employers will often refuse to provide people with disabilities the chance to demonstrate their abilities. Employers routinely fail to provide reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities to fully perform their jobs. Employers may also retaliate against employees who ask for extra support because of a disability by firing them, reducing their hours or otherwise setting them up to fail. This is unfair and in fact, illegal. You should know that California state and federal laws protect your right to work and that you can remain on the job with reasonable accommodations.

At The Sampath Law Firm, we have extensive experience and success litigating disability discrimination cases. We can help you navigate the law and make sure you get the justice you deserve. If you're looking for expert guidance on your options, contact our San Francisco Bay Area office today.

Understanding Disability Discrimination

What is a Disability?

Not everyone with a medical condition is protected by the law. In order to be protected, a person must have a disability as defined by the law. A person can show that he or she has a disability in one of three ways:

  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, or learning).

  • A person may be disabled if he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).

  • A person may be disabled if he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he or she does not have such an impairment).

  • In California a person may also have a disability disability case if they are perceived as disabled but their employer and are discriminated against, harassed or retaliated against for this reason.

Many disability rights cases involve disputes over what constitutes a disability. We have thorough and extensive knowledge with the nuances of the law and can explain these complexities to you. To discuss your situation with a caring attorney who can vigorously advocate on your behalf, contact our office for a free initial consultation.

What is Disability Discrimination in the Workplace?

Disability discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employer treats an individual unfavorably because of their disability, a perceived disability, or their association with someone who has a disability. In California, as in the rest of the United States, disability discrimination is strictly prohibited by state and federal laws, including the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Here are some examples of disability discrimination in the state of California:

  • Failure to Provide Reasonable Accommodations: Employers in California are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations (covered in the next section of this article) to employees with disabilities to ensure they can perform essential job functions. This is unless doing so would create an “undue hardship” for the employer.

  • Disability-Based Harassment: Employers cannot subject employees to harassment or to a hostile work environment due to their disability. Harassment may include offensive comments, slurs, or other derogatory remarks about an employee's disability.

  • Wrongful Termination or Demotion: Employers cannot terminate or demote employees based on their disability or their use of reasonable accommodations. Any decisions about employment should be based on job performance and qualifications.

  • Refusal to Hire Due to Disability: Employers cannot refuse to hire an applicant solely because of their disability if the applicant is otherwise qualified for the role.

  • Unequal Pay and Benefits: Employees with disabilities must receive equal pay and benefits for equal work. Differences in compensation or benefits based on disability are considered to be discriminatory.

  • Failure to Engage in the Interactive Process: Employers must engage in an interactive process with employees who request reasonable accommodations. The “interactive process” refers to a discussion between an employer and employee to discuss what constitutes reasonable accommodations for the employee to perform their job function.

Some examples of disability discrimination in the workplace include:

  • An employer refuses to provide a sign language interpreter for a deaf employee during meetings, making it impossible for the employee to fully participate.

  • Coworkers habitually make insulting comments about a colleague's wheelchair use, creating a hostile work environment for the disabled employee.

  • An employer fires an employee with a disability after the employee requested a modified work schedule to manage their medical treatments.

  • A highly-qualified job applicant with a visual impairment is denied a position because the employer assumes they won't be able to perform the job tasks.

  • An employee with a disability is paid less than their non-disabled counterparts for doing the same job with the same responsibilities.

  • An employer ignores an employee's reasonable accommodation request and refuses to engage in discussions about possible accommodations.

What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

Both the American with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") require an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. Generally, an accommodation is any change in the work environment that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.

Examples of reasonable accommodation include but are not limited to:

  • Changing job duties

  • Changing the work shift

  • Providing leave for medical care

  • Accommodating work schedules

  • Relocating the work area

  • Providing mechanical or electrical aids (or modifications)

  • Providing interpreters or readers

  • Acquiring or modifying equipment, furniture or devices

  • Restructuring job schedules or responsibilities

  • Making facilities accessible to and usable by people with disabilities

Contact an Experienced Disability Discrimination Attorney in San Francisco

If you have made your employer aware of your disability, asked for help, but are still not getting what you need, your employer may have violated the law. You should take action. The disability discrimination counsel at the Sampath Law Firm in San Francisco is here to help. Contact our office for more information and to schedule a consultation.

The Sampath Law Firm Is Here for You

At The Sampath Law Firm, we focus on employment law and we are here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

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The Sampath Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about employment-related law issues and other workplace injustices in California.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.