Employees and job applicants are protected against unlawful discrimination in the workplace based on medical conditions. Similar to protections for disability discrimination, employers are generally required to provide a reasonable accommodation for workers with a medical condition. Workers who are discriminated against because of a medical condition may be able to get compensation from the employer.
At Sirmabekian Law Firm, we prioritize workplace discrimination cases because we understand how important is to be treated fairly in employment. Discrimination can affect a person’s job prospects and future growth at a company. Here, we will answer some of the most common questions about medical condition discrimination in California, including:
- What is medical condition discrimination protections in California?
- What kinds of medical conditions are protected in the workplace?
- How can I find evidence of discrimination because of a medical condition?
- What if other employees are harassing me or another employee because of a medical condition?
- What are the remedies if I am a victim of medical condition discrimination in Los Angeles?
- Who do I contact in Los Angeles to file a medical condition discrimination lawsuit?
After reviewing this information, if you have other questions, contact us in Los Angeles today to schedule a free initial consultation.
California and federal law provide protections for employees and applicants against discrimination and discriminatory actions and policies based on medical conditions. Employment protections extend from job ads through to termination, including:
- Hiring process;
- Termination or discharge process;
- Selection for training programs leading to employment;
- Promotion or demotion;
- Lack of reasonable accommodation;
- Management and discipline of employees; and
- Compensation, terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides employment protections for workers who are discriminated against based on a medical condition or perceived medical condition.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) also provides federal protections against workplace discrimination based on disability but the ADA also covers a number of qualifying medical conditions.
A medical condition can include a disease, illness, or genetic characteristic. Cancer is one of the most commonly discriminated against medical conditions. An employer may think that an employee with cancer will not be able to perform the job or will need to take too much sick leave. However, employers are generally required to make reasonable accommodations for individuals with a medical condition, unless it would create an undue hardship.
Under the FEHA, a medical condition includes any scientifically or medically identifiable gene or chromosome, inherited characteristics, or combination, that is known to be a cause of a disease or a disorder or that is associated with a statistically increased risk of development of a disease or disorder. This includes a diagnosis of cancer or a history of cancer.
Other medical conditions may also fall under a physical or mental disability, which is given similar protections under the law. A physical medical condition can include any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that does both of the following:
- Affects one or more of the following body systems: neurological, immunological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; and
- Limits a major life activity.
Even if an employer is wrong about a medical condition but discriminates against the employee, the employee may still be protected. For example, an employer finds out Maria has a tumor. The employer does not want to have an employee with cancer and fires Maria with no explanation. Maria’s tumor was benign and she did not have cancer. However, Maria may still be protected from employment discrimination based on a medical condition because the employer thought the tumor was cancerous.
One reason that so much discrimination goes unreported is that employees think they don’t have any proof of discrimination. Discrimination does not always have proof. An employer is not likely to send an email to HR to fire an employee because they found out about a medical condition. Fortunately, experienced discrimination law attorneys can demonstrate discriminatory impact or discriminatory intent without direct evidence.
An employer may have told a supervisor or other employer something directly or indirectly about problems with hiring people with cancer or other medical conditions. Other signs of discrimination may adverse actions after the employer found out about some possible medical issues, including:
- Sudden changes in performance reviews;
- Changes in job duties;
- Reduced hours for no apparent reason;
- Exclusion from meetings;
- Being treated differently than other employees;
- Given fewer advancement opportunities;
- Harassment from co-workers that are not addressed by the employer; or
- Failure to hire or promote other disabled applicants or employees.
An employer cannot avoid responsibility for workplace discrimination just because the boss is not discriminating against the employee. Employers are generally required to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring against others. However, holding the employer accountable generally requires reporting the discrimination first. Employees who feel discriminated against by other workers based on a medical condition should report the issue to their Human Resources (HR) personnel or a supervisor.
Violations of the FEHA or ADA may result in back pay, benefits, and reinstatement for employees. Generally, an employment discrimination case will provide the back pay or benefits the employee would have received if not for the discrimination. If the employee was terminated, the employee may be able to recover compensation from the time the discriminatory firing took place.
In some cases, a remedy for employment discrimination is reinstatement to the job or to a higher position. However, the employee may not always want to return to a discriminatory workplace and instead prefer getting a new job elsewhere.
In a civil lawsuit brought against an employer for violations of the FEHA, the court may also award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. This is important for workers because the costs of litigation for an hourly or salaried worker may be too high to consider. Fortunately, many employment discrimination cases are handled on a contingency basis, so the worker does not need to pay anything unless they win their case. Additionally, getting legal fees and costs from the employer will allow workers to seek out experienced and professional employment law attorneys, even if their damages are relatively small.
If you suspect wrongful termination based on medical condition discrimination, contact an experienced wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles to understand your rights.
Workers who are discriminated against because of a medical condition face a loss of job opportunities that can impact their future. California and federal anti-discrimination laws protect workers against unlawful medical condition discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Reporting discrimination issues can also help others who are afraid of speaking up.
Contact Sirmabekian Law Firm online or at 818-473-5003 to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney who has the skills and experience to help make sure you get the best outcome for your medical condition discrimination or harassment claim. An initial consultation will not cost you anything and you will be able to get an idea about your rights and options to move forward.
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