Disability Discrimination in California

Disability Discrimination in California: How Do I Bring a Lawsuit?

Drawing a parallel to the civil rights battlegrounds of the past, the fight against disability discrimination in California is a modern-day struggle for equality and fair treatment.

If you’re in California and believe you’ve been sidelined because of your disability, you’re not powerless. You have legal rights, and you can take action.

You might be wondering, however, where to start or how to initiate a lawsuit. This quest for justice can be daunting, filled with legal jargon, and may seem like an uphill battle. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you clarify the process, understand your rights, and guide you on the path of standing up for yourself.

Let’s begin this journey together.

Is it legal for an employer in California to deny me employment due to a disability?

In California, an employer’s refusal to hire you due to your disability is a blatant violation of both state and federal laws. Specifically, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect individuals with disability from discrimination in the workplace. These laws grant you protection if you can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodations.

It’s important to understand that an employer’s legitimate concern about your ability to perform the job should not be misconstrued as discrimination. However, if you believe you have been unfairly treated or denied employment based on your disability, you have the right to fight back. Consulting with a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate these cases’ often complicated legal landscape.

Don’t let discrimination stand in your way; you deserve equal opportunities in the workplace.

Which disabilities are protected?

You might be wondering what qualifies as a disability under state and federal laws. It’s important to realize that both physical and mental impairments receive protection under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This encompasses any disorder that limits a major life activity, even with meditation or assistive devices. Both laws protect individuals who have a disability, have a record of such an impairment, or are perceived to have one.

The definition of disability under the FEHA is interpreted broadly to provide extensive protection. Remember, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate based on these protected disabilities.

If you feel you’ve been unfairly treated, consider seeking legal advice to protect your rights.

Signs That You May Have Experienced Disability Discrimination

While understanding what constitutes a disability is crucial, it’s equally important to recognize the often subtle signs of discrimination based on that disability.

Perhaps you’ve experienced changes in job performance reviews, exclusion from meetings, or even differential treatment. Maybe your workload has increased, or your hours have been cut. These could all be red flags.

Even offhand remarks or jokes about your disability shouldn’t be dismissed lightly. If you were subjected to inappropriate interview questions about your health or required to undergo unnecessary medical exams, these too can be signs of discrimination.

You must stay vigilant, informed, and prepared to stand up for your rights.

Explaining Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities in the Workplace

As an employee faced with physical or mental disabilities, it’s crucial to understand what constitutes a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Federal and state laws mandate employers to provide these accommodations unless it causes undue hardship.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Reasonable accommodations are modifications or adjustments that enable you to perform essential job functions.
  • These could include changes in work schedule, modifications in work equipment, or alterations in job duties.
  • Employers are required to engage in an interactive process to identify suitable accommodations.
  • Employers can only refuse if it causes significant difficulty or expense, known as undue hardship.
  • If denied a reasonable accommodation without a valid reason, you may have grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.

Is Filing a Workplace Discrimination Complaint with the EEOC the Right Decision?

If you’ve been denied a reasonable accommodation or faced other forms of disability discrimination in the workplace, considering whether to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a crucial next step. This federal agency is responsible for enforcing laws against workplace discrimination, which includes disability discrimination. Filing a complaint with the EEOC can help you preserve your rights and potentially lead to an investigation into your employer’s conduct.

It’s also noteworthy that you don’t have to choose between the EEOC and a private lawsuit. You can do both. However, consulting with a knowledgeable employment attorney before you make any decisions can provide valuable guidance and increase your chances of achieving a just outcome.

Exploring Your Options: Can You Sue Your Employer for Disability Discrimination in California?

Yes, you absolutely can sue your employer for disability discrimination in California, provided you have experienced discriminatory treatment based on your disability. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You must have evidence of discrimination, such as being fired, denied promotion, or treated differently due to your disability.
  • The law protects you, whether your disability is physical or mental.

You’ll need to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing before you can sue. Once you receive a ‘right to sue’ notice, you can proceed with your lawsuit.

Damages can include lost wages, emotional distress, and attorney’s fees.

Don’t let discrimination stand. You have rights and the law is on your side.

Understanding Damages in an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

While it’s crucial to understand your rights to sue for disability discrimination, it’s equally important to know what damages you could potentially recover in such a lawsuit.

If you’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination in California, you could be eligible for both compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages cover your tangible losses, such as lost wages and benefits, medical expenses, and the cost of job search or retraining. They also cover intangible losses like emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the employer for particularly egregious conduct and to deter similar behavior in the future.

Can I be fired for filing a lawsuit?

Understandably, you might fear retaliation, including job termination, for filing a disability discrimination lawsuit; however, it’s crucial to know that such actions by your employer are strictly illegal under both California state and federal laws.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect you from retaliation.

Your employer can’t fire, demote, harass, or otherwise ‘retaliate’ because you filed a lawsuit or charge, participated in discrimination proceedings, or opposed discrimination.

Retaliation is a separate violation, meaning you could win a retaliation lawsuit even if the court finds no disability discrimination.

If you experience retaliation, document incidents and consult an attorney promptly.


Don’t let fear of retaliation stop you from standing up for your rights. It’s illegal for employers to fire you for filing a disability discrimination lawsuit. Remember, both California state law and federal law safeguard you.

By identifying discrimination, understanding your rights, and taking appropriate action, you can ensure fairness in the workplace.

Let’s not just imagine a world free of disability discrimination – let’s create it, one courageous step at a time.

Share this to:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If You Encounter Any Issues, Kindly Complete Our Basic Employment Intake Form, and We Will Reach Out to You Promptly.

Before initiating a formal intake process, we would like to gather some preliminary information to assess the viability of your case. Your prompt responses will help us determine if we are well-suited to address your needs. Please note that there is no attorney-client relationship based on the submission of this form.

By submitting you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Please be advised that Jonny Law PC does not represent you until you have signed a retainer agreement.  Until that time, you are responsible for any statutes of limitations or other deadlines for your case or potential case.