How Far Must California Employers Go to Accommodate a Disability?

Employment discrimination is illegal under state and federal law. Once an employee makes it known that they are experiencing any type of disability, public and private employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation for the employee. Employees are entitled to any accommodation that would not produce undue hardship to the employer’s operation. Disabled employees who are refused reasonable accommodation for their disability and forced to retire may be entitled to take legal action against their former employer. These are known as “failure to accommodate” claims. The California Court of Appeals recently rejected a woman’s claim against the City of Sacramento that alleged her retirement was the result of the city’s refusal to reasonably accommodate her disability.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff in the recently decided case is a woman who was employed by the City of Sacramento for approximately 20 years. Around 2014, the plaintiff became disabled and took several leaves of absence from her job to have treatment on her ankle. The plaintiff was allotted six months of medical leave, after which she would need to return to work in order to keep priority for her position. After having surgery on her ankle, the plaintiff was not cleared to return to work by the doctor within the six-month medical leave period. Because she wanted to maintain her insurance coverage, the plaintiff decided to retire from her job.

After her retirement, the plaintiff sued the city for disability discrimination, claiming that the city did not make reasonable accommodations for her to continue her job working with her disability. The city responded that they offered the plaintiff 6 months of medical leave as an accommodation for her disability. Furthermore, the city responded that the plaintiff could have requested modified work duties instead of seeking retirement. A jury heard the plaintiff’s claim and sided with the defendant, finding that while the plaintiff could have continued her job with reasonable accommodation, the defendant did not refuse to offer such accommodation, and was not liable for disability discrimination as a result.

California disability discrimination claims can be complex, and anyone considering bringing a claim against their employer should work with an experienced Los Angeles employment attorney.

How Can You Challenge Disability Discrimination in California?

If you or a loved one is being discriminated against at a California job because of a disability, you may have a legal claim against your employer. Employers have a duty to make reasonable accommodations to allow disabled employees to complete their jobs, and an employer’s failure to do so could result in financial liability. If you have been discriminated against, finding an experienced California employment law attorney to handle your claim will increase your chances of success. The qualified California employment lawyers at the Nourmand Law Firm have experience handling disability discrimination cases. For a free, no-obligation consultation with a California employment law attorney, call 310-553-3600 today.

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