Earlier this month, an employee appealed the lower court’s decision in favor of his employer in a wrongful termination case. When the case was before the lower court, the plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that he should succeed because his employer engaged in disability discrimination. On appeal, the higher court agreed with the lower court, ruling again in favor of the company that had employed the plaintiff.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the plaintiff began working as an assembler in 1989 for a fairly large company. In 2015, the plaintiff took an extended medical leave because he was having problems with his liver. These medical issues eventually led to a liver transplant in October 2016.
The plaintiff had been unable to work for approximately 13 months. In late October 2016, the plaintiff’s employer sent him a letter informing him that his unpaid medical leave had expired many months ago, and that he had one week to return to work before the employer would assume he had resigned. The plaintiff failed to return to work, and the company terminated his employment one week later.
In November 2018, the plaintiff filed a claim for disability discrimination. He alleged that the employer failed to provide reasonable accommodation given his medical condition.
On appeal, the court had to decide whether the lower court had improperly ruled in favor of the plaintiff’s previous employer. Looking at the evidence, the court noticed that the plaintiff had settled a workers’ compensation claim in July 2018. This workers’ compensation action was based on the fact that the plaintiff was “medically precluded” from performing his essential job duties. He was compensated because he had no choice but to stay home from work due to his liver condition.
Looking then at the discrimination claim, the court concluded that if the plaintiff was medically prohibited from performing his job duties, the employer was not discriminating against him by telling him he could not return to work. If the plaintiff was truly unable to perform his essential tasks as an assembler, it was unreasonable for him to think that he could still have a job with the company.
Relevant statutes do not prohibit an employer from firing an employee with a disability if the employee is unable to perform their duties even with reasonable accommodations. Because the company could not offer the plaintiff accommodations for his liver condition that would allow him to work, the plaintiff’s claim was without merit. The court thus affirmed the original verdict.
Are You Facing Disability Discrimination in the Workplace in California?
Unfortunately, disability discrimination is far too common, and at The Nourmand Law Firm, we know which arguments are most likely to convince a court that you have unjustly suffered from your employer’s actions. We are proud to have been fighting for employees’ rights in California for over 20 years, and we would be proud to represent you. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 800-700-9243.