The California Fair Employment and Housing Act provides greater protections to employees than federal law. But bringing a lawsuit under the Act for discrimination or wrongful termination can still be a difficult and arduous process for employees. Employees with disabilities who believe they are being wrongfully discriminated against must prove they have a disability, were otherwise qualified for a position, suffered an adverse employment action, and the employer acted with a discriminatory motive. In a recent California appellate court case, one employee failed to meet this burden.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was employed as a nurse in the defendant’s hospital in California. The employee claimed that the defendant was discriminating against her due to a disability and failing to provide accommodations for her disability in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. The employee underwent carpal tunnel surgery and was placed on modified duty and took several leaves of absence for surgery and recovery. The employee alleged her supervisors passed her over for a promotion after these absences, promoting a less-qualified nurse in her place.
The employee was then transferred to another hospital, where a disputed incident led to the employee failing her probationary period at that hospital. At this point, she attempted to transfer back but was allegedly falsely told her position had been filled. She then took a leave of absence due to severe stress from her unstable work status. She returned to work at the original hospital, where new supervisors were in place. The employee accused these supervisors of forcing her to undergo evaluations of competency by unqualified employees, later firing her because of these sham evaluations. Upon her return, her pay was also reduced and her work schedule was changed. After termination, the employee filed suit, alleging discrimination, failure to follow certain administrative procedures, retaliation, and wrongful termination.
The trial court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed.
The Court’s Decision
The appellate court agreed with the trial court in many respects. First, the court held that the employee failed to exhaust many of her administrative claims before bringing suit. As such, the court only addressed the employee’s claims arising out of the evaluations and subsequent termination. As to those claims, the court said that the plaintiff failed to show she was terminated due to discriminatory reasons because the plaintiff performed unauthorized work at another medical facility while on medical leave and did not show that other nurses also did similar unauthorized work without being terminated. In addition, the court found that the employers presented a valid and lawful reason for terminating the plaintiff. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, dismissing the case and the plaintiff’s claims.
Do You Need a California Employment Law Attorney?
Don’t make the same mistakes this plaintiff made. Contact a California employment law firm with experience in disability discrimination claims. The attorneys at The Nourmand Law Firm will fight for you every step of the process. For a free, no-obligation consultation with a California employment law attorney, call us today at 310-553-3600.