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Disability Discrimination in California for Employers

In California, state and Federal laws ensure that everyone has the right and ability to work, even those with disabilities. To this end, there are a number of anti-discrimination laws that all California businesses must abide by. For many employers, this opens up a number of questions about managing disability discrimination in the workplace and preventing disability discrimination lawsuits. In this article, we’ll go over what protections employees can expect from their employers due to the ADA and EEOC. In addition, we will cover employer rights in disability discrimination cases. 

Are You A California Employer Facing A Discrimination Lawsuit?

Federal Disability Protections

In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against disabled individuals. The ADA applies to any business with 15 or more employees and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The ADA considers employees with substantial impairments, which significantly limit a major life activity, as having disabilities and thus entitled to protection under the law. The individual must also be qualified and able to perform the job’s essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodation, just like the other company employees.

Employers should keep in mind that the ADA doesn’t only establish laws relating to employees who have already been hired, but applies to all aspects of their employment practices, such as: 

  • Recruitment
  • Hiring
  • Training
  • Promotion
  • Benefits
  • Etc. 

Notably, the ADA does not put restrictions on state laws relating to disability discrimination. In other words, if California passes laws with even more protections for people with disabilities, then those take precedence. California employers must follow whichever law provides the highest standards for its employees. Keeping track of state and federal laws can get confusing, but it’s important to be familiar with both to practice disability discrimination risk mitigation. Ruben Ruiz PC has all the knowledge you need to protect you from employer liability in disability discrimination cases. 

California Employer Responsibilities For Disability Discrimination


California’s state law against disability discrimination is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of 1959. It is enforced by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEA) and is considered to offer more protections to disabled employees than the ADA. 

One reason is that while the ADA only covers businesses with 15 or more employees, California’s FEHA applies to any business with five or more employees. Our boutique law firm is a perfect match for small companies like this, which often don’t have an HR department but still need to be aware of best practices for disability discrimination prevention. FEHA also protects people with physical disabilities, latent or chronic conditions that could recur in the future, and some mental health conditions. This definition of disability is more inclusive than that in the ADA. 

When working with individuals with disabilities, California employers must provide reasonable accommodations that allow the individual to perform the essential functions of the job. However, which accommodations are reasonable can be difficult to pin down precisely. In many cases, a main part of the employer’s role in reasonable accommodation comes down to simply having an open line of communication with the employee and listening to their needs. 

Looking For An Employment Attorney To Fight Your Disability Discrimination Case in California?

Developing the right disability discrimination policies for employers can be difficult without the help of experienced and capable attorneys. If you are handling disability discrimination claims in California court, the need for a lawyer is even more immediate. 

Ruben P. Ruiz PC has a team of lawyers with years of experience in the Bay Area, successfully advocating for small and medium-sized businesses. Our firm is dedicated to giving your case our full attention, contributing to our high litigation success rate. For more information, reach out by filling out the form below. 

Contact us today by filling out the form below. Our fees start at $250 for half an hour. If we decide to work together, the fee for the initial consultation will be credited to your account.