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Disability Discrimination at Work (Part 1)

Posted on November 1, 2021 | Discrimination,Employment Law,Workplace Discrimination

In disability discrimination cases, employers sometimes argue there was no wrongful conduct or no duty to accommodate because in their view, the employee did not have a “disability.” However, the definition of disability is broadly construed in California. The Legislature has stated its intent that “physical disability” needs to be construed broadly so that applicants and employees are protected from discrimination due to the following:

  • actual or perceived physical impairment that is:
    • disabling,
    • potentially disabling,
    • or perceived as disabling or potentially disabling.

Here are some examples of what constitutes a physical disability by statute under the Fair Employment and Housing Act:

  • chronic or episodic conditions such as HIV/AIDS
  • hepatitis
  • epilepsy
  • seizure disorder
  • diabetes
  • multiple sclerosis
  • heart disease

In addition, California Courts have determined that the following are also physical disabilities:

  • Back conditions that impair working or other major life activities
  • Polio disability
  • Wrist injury resulting in restrictions on lifting, pulling and pushing
  • Hypertension and high blood pressure
  • High risk pregnancy

However, the following are not “disabilities” under the FEHA—e.g., the common cold; seasonal or common influenza; minor cuts, sprains, muscle aches, soreness, bruises or abrasions; non-migraine headaches; and minor or nonchronic gastrointestinal disorders.

This article is focused on physical disability under the FEHA. The issue of mental disability will be covered in a subsequent article.

If you believe you’ve suffered discrimination at work due to a disability, feel free to call The Law Office of Omid Nosrati at 310-553-5630 for a free case review.

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