Disability Lawyer San Diego: Fight Disability Discrimination at Work
Did you know that disability discrimination accounts for over 33% of all labor law cases filed with the EEOC? That’s no surprise, as 61% of employees say they have witnessed or experienced discrimination at work.
The burden of discrimination weighs a heavy toll on individuals and communities alike. Certain disabilities make basic daily life functions difficult or impossible for many people without special accommodations. 28% of people with disabilities have reported that their work and community life present extra challenges.
Discrimination due to disability happens when people are denied equality based on a mental or physical condition. When employers deny opportunities based on a disability, harass employees because they are disabled, or even terminate them due to a disability, they are acting in violation of the law.
Hogue + Belong disability lawyers in San Diego take on disability discrimination cases. They help you fight for your legal rights and rights to dignity and fairness.
Disability Rights in the Workplace
Disabilities take a massive toll on simple daily tasks and routines. Having a disability makes it harder for some people to go to certain places, travel, or enjoy social situations.
In the past 30 years, legal protections for people with disabilities have expanded because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA expands civil rights for Americans by prohibiting discrimination because of someone’s disability. This makes having a disability a legally protected class under federal law. The other protected classes are race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and age.
Many employers get away with the mistreatment of these identity groups. But you can fight for your legal right to equal access to employment opportunities. The ADA ensures you can recover damages from losses and mental distress caused by harassment or by being unfairly terminated from a job.
According to the ADA, a disability is defined as:
- A physical or mental impairment that causes one or more obstacles in one’s daily life.
- Has a history of physical or mental impairments that impacted life activities.
- Regarded by others as having a mental or physical impairment that creates obstacles in their daily life.
Major life impairments, which may require special accommodations, including, but not limited to, experiencing difficulty with:
- Walking, seeing, hearing.
- Learning, concentration, thinking.
- Taking care of oneself.
Life events don’t exist in a vacuum. People experience traumatic life events, injuries, and serious illnesses that impact their social and professional lives. Nobody deserves to be mistreated or harassed because of their circumstances. The ADA also makes it a legal requirement to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities in the workplace.
With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, you can now go to court if you have been a victim of discrimination. Discrimination attorneys work to build a strong case that proves employers mistreated you explicitly because of your disability. If you have been a victim of discrimination, contact the top disability lawyer in San Diego today.
Discrimination Disability Laws in California
Hogue + Belong Attorneys help victims of disability discrimination in the San Diego area. Residents have protections from the ADA, a federal policy. The State of California has also passed laws to protect disabled people who face discrimination from employers.
Section 12940 of the California Government Code prohibits discrimination against people in certain protected classes. Sub-section A addresses employer discrimination. This includes termination because of a disability if reasonable accommodations could have been made.
To prove discrimination, the employer must have been aware that the claimant had a disability. Without knowledge of the disability, it may be difficult for attorneys to establish intent in the case. Claiming a disability and establishing a paper trail while employed helps build a case if discrimination ever occurs.
Subsection “n” of Section 12940 of the California Government Code states that employers have a legal obligation to ensure reasonable accommodations for disabled workers. If an employee requests accommodations for their disability, employers have to comply through an interactive process.
The interactive process must be done in a timely fashion and in good faith. A strong discrimination lawsuit requires proof that the employer failed to undergo this interactive process when requested.
What Makes Accommodations Reasonable
The jury ultimately decides what constitutes reasonable accomodations in each case. These considerations can vary for different workplaces and situations.
1 in 4 Americans experiences some degree of disability, according to the CDC. This means that a quarter of the US population might require some type of accommodation.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations include:
Alternate forms of communication.
For people with certain neurological conditions, adjusting to different communication methods will help them perform their job. For example, workers with hearing disabilities can receive communications in written form.
For certain disabilities, like dyslexia, or low sight/blindness, communicating with audio tools will constitute a reasonable accommodation, as well as using larger fonts in company documents and communications.
Allowing Service Animals
Service animals are animals with specialized training to help people with disabilities. Allowing a service animal to enter the workplace provides reasonable accommodation for disabled people. Service animals provide essential assistance and life-saving help for those who need them. But, an emotional support animal does not legally qualify as a reasonable accommodation.
Altering Job Requirements and Responsibilities
Managers can take away certain tasks that a person with a disability can’t do, such as lifting heavy objects or frequently traveling on foot.
Employers can also make changes to how an employer does their job. One major thing companies can offer is the option to work remotely part-time. 2020 has shown everyone that people can still perform their fundamental roles at their home office.
Disabled people with physical conditions that make walking and mobility challenges can request a special parking spot. This needs to be offered separately from accessible parking spots for customers.
Changes in Equipment or Work Environment
Some examples of work environment change for disability include:
- Lowered desks for people in wheelchairs.
- Standing desks for people with back issues.
- Left or right-handed desks for people who hurt either arm.
- Chairs for employees who stand for their entire shift.
- Screen magnifying software.
- Any special equipment to help disabled workers complete their tasks.
Employers can offer disabled employees a new positions they are better suited for. The law considers this accommodation reasonable if:
- The person has the qualifications to do the job.
- No new position had to be created.
- The company didn’t have to terminate or switch other employees.
Proving a Failure to Provide Accommodations
As mentioned earlier, the jury decides whether the employer hasn’t met the employee’s needs for accommodation in a way that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and California discrimination laws.
Disability lawyers have the job of proving this wrongdoing. They can use paperwork from the employee, employer, or documents from medical providers. They have to prove that:
The employee let the employer know about their disability
Most importantly, the burden of proof lies in showing that the employee did not get terminated or was denied an opportunity because of poor job performance. They need evidence that the employee had the qualifications to do their job and performed their job well.
How Able-ism Creates Obstacles
When you discriminate against someone based on their disability, you operate under the assumption that disabled people are less capable. In actuality, research has demonstrated the opposite. Disabled people have the same abilities and potential as any non-disabled person.
Unfortunately, many disabled people face harassment from their coworkers or employers. Harassment can include negative comments said to someone or microaggressions. It also includes unfair treatment compared to their peers.
Bullying harms disabled workers so much that they can’t perform their jobs. It creates more obstacles. If you were harassed to the point which hindered your ability to work, and were fired because of poor job performance, you may be able to file discrimination disability charges. You must prove that you experienced workplace harassment that interrupted your daily tasks.
Many workers already feel excluded from their peers because of the limitations of their disability. Disabled people deserve consideration for their comfort, privacy, and dignity at work.
It only takes listening to them when they speak up. Disabled people have a voice. It takes making minor adjustments that add no difficulties for the coworkers. Yet, it makes all the difference in improving the quality of life for disabled people.
How Your Disability Lawyer San Diego Will Build Your Case
When searching for the right disability lawyer, you want to work with someone who has the willingness to take on your entire case and take on the burden of proof. Disability discrimination lawyers have specialized knowledge about disability rights and laws on employer discrimination.
Your chosen lawyer will take all your evidence and documents to present before the judge and jury. This takes a great deal of time and work.
But how exactly does the disability lawyer prove that discrimination happened?
01. Establishing the Presence of Disability
The lawyer establishes that you belong in a protective class. Mainly, they need to prove that you have a disability. They also need to establish that your employer knew about the condition. Disability cases can be tough to prove discrimination. But it’s not impossible.
02. Looking for Direct Evidence
Some of the ways lawyers look for direct evidence of disability discrimination include:
- Written derogatory comments.
- People witnessing harassment.
- Unfair verbal comments directed at one person.
The lawyer has the burden of building the case with a solid package demonstrating the above situations. They rely on:
- Personnel files.
- Testimonies from other employees.
- Building a timeline of events.
Lawyers also look at circumstantial evidence to prove that the employer lied as a pretext to the adverse employment action. This means that their real reasoning for firing or denying an opportunity covers up their discrimination.
03. Job Performance History and Disciplinary History
The lawyer will consider the following questions:
- Has the employee been written up before?
- Have other disciplinary actions happened before termination?
- What was the length of employment?
- Does the company discipline other employees for the same reasons?
If You Have To Fight, Have The Top Disability Lawyer in San Diego On Your Side
Workers have a right to ask for reasonable accommodations. Disabled people have a right to work and flourish in public spaces. So many people with disabilities have already achieved so much success.
Physical or mental impairments resulting from disability do not determine a person’s talent, ambition, and drive in the workplace.
The system remains unbalanced, but Hogue + Belong Attorneys will fight to present the best possible case for disabled workers.
Contact the office to work with a highly qualified and dedicated disability lawyer in San Diego.
If you have been unfairly terminated because of a disability or because your employer failed to offer accommodations, our San Diego disability lawyer can help you fight for the fair treatment you deserve.