Total Articles: 24
Ogletree Deakins • March 19, 2015
Part one of this two-part series covered the details of the interactive process in California and discussed a scenario in which the employee fails to respond to the employer’s attempts to communicate on an accommodation to his disability. Part two covers two additional scenarios and provides key take-aways to be drawn from recent California court rulings on the interactive process.
Ogletree Deakins • March 18, 2015
California employers are not only required to refrain from discriminating against any employee on the basis of disability, but they also have an obligation to provide “reasonable accommodations” for employees with disabilities. Additionally, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides that to determine whether there is an effective and reasonable accommodation that can be implemented, employers and employees must participate in a mutual, good-faith interactive process. While this sounds like a relatively simple obligation, it has become a topic that often confuses employers and employees alike. In litigation, the issue of the interactive process has become one of the most important aspects for litigants, counsel, and judges. An article in the September 2010 issue of the California Labor & Employment Law Review examined the steps of the interactive process “tango.” This article explores what happens when, for whatever reason, the process comes to an end.
Shaw Valenza LLP • March 09, 2015
The Court of Appeal in Nealy v. City of Santa Monica upheld summary judgment in a disability discrimination case. The case involved an injured "solid waste equipment operator," which may mean garbage truck operator. Nearly injured his right knee lifting a large bin, leading to several surgeries.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • March 04, 2015
Affirming summary judgment in favor of an employer on an employee’s disability discrimination claims under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”), the California Court of Appeal has ruled that the employer was not required to eliminate essential functions of a position as a reasonable accommodation. Nealy v. City of Santa Monica, No. B246634 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 13, 2015).
Jackson Lewis P.C. • October 07, 2014
A university properly terminated a professor for failing to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination after he had engaged in instances of threatening behavior, the California Court of Appeal has ruled, affirming a judgment in favor of the University of San Francisco on a professor’s alleged disability discrimination claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Kao v. University of San Francisco, No. A135750 (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 2, 2014). Significantly, the Court ruled the University was not required to engage in an “interactive process” before requesting the examination because the professor never sought any accommodation for any disability.
Shaw Valenza LLP • September 05, 2014
Professor John Kao engaged in a series of confrontations with other academics at University of San Francisco over time. His co-workers became afraid of him. He angrily responded to innocuous questions, and became enraged at colleagues over seemingly benign interactions.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • July 09, 2014
An employee who repeatedly falsified his employment status to obtain employment, as his employer learned only after he was laid off a second time and filed suit, was not barred by the doctrines of “after-acquired evidence” or “unclean hands” from asserting claims for alleged disability discrimination against his employer under California law, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., No. S196568 (Cal. June 26, 2014).
Shaw Valenza LLP • March 12, 2014
Managers unfamiliar with the Industrial Welfare Commission (“IWC”) Wage Order applicable to their businesses may be unaware that California requires most employers to furnish many employees with “suitable” seats to do their work. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has asked the California Supreme Court to interpret the requirement in connection with pending class action lawsuits. If the California Supreme Court takes up the case, its answers could have significant effect on the structure of employees’ jobs, not to mention the physical layout of workplaces all over California.
Shaw Valenza LLP • November 04, 2013
The Legislature passed a paid, organ donation leave provision a couple of years ago (Labor Code Sections 1508-13), which became effective January 1, 2011. (The court calls it the Donation Protection Act or DPA) Upon hire in September 2010, Scott Rope told his new employer, Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc. that he would need time off in February 2011 to donate a kidney to his sister. When he found out about the new paid leave law, he asked for a longer leave under the new statute.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • November 04, 2013
An employee who told his employer that he would need time off because he intended to donate a kidney to his sister and was fired two days before California’s new Donor Protection Act became effective could pursue a claim for associational disability discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. Rope v. Auto-Chlor System of Washington, Inc., No. B242003 (Cal. Ct. App. Oct. 16, 2013). However, the employee could not assert a statutory claim under the Michelle Maykin Donor Protection Act, because the Act does not apply retroactively.
Shaw Valenza LLP • March 25, 2013
California employers are required to “reasonably accommodate” disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Entities operating places of public accommodation – including retail establishments, schools, hotels, restaurants, banks, theatres, and stadiums – also must make their facilities and services accessible to disabled members of the public under the ADA and the California Disabled Persons Act (“DPA”). Businesses are obligated to remove physical barriers – including architectural, communications, and transportation impediments – to ensure access.
FordHarrison LLP • March 21, 2013
Key Points: Recent California case law and new regulations stress the importance of the employer's duty to engage in the interactive process with disabled workers who require accommodation. Now more than ever, it is important for employers to review their current policies and procedures to ensure compliance with California's broader disability protections.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • March 04, 2013
An employee who was discharged after seeking an extension of his leave of absence was a qualified individual entitled to proceed with his disability discrimination claim under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, even though he was totally disabled while on leave, where leave may be a reasonable accommodation of his temporary disability, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. Prock v. Tamura Corp. of Am., No. E054185 (Cal. Ct. App. Jan. 25, 2013) (unpublished). The Court found the employee’s receipt of disability benefits did not bar his claims where he also asserted he could have returned to work if given additional leave. It also found the employer failed to engage in the interactive process when the employee requested an extension of his leave. The Court reversed summary judgment in favor of the employer and returned to case to the trial court.
Jackson Lewis P.C. • February 20, 2013
California employers should be prepared to welcome support dogs and other animals into the workplace as a reasonable accommodation for disabled workers requiring support under new disability regulations issued by the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission. The new regulations significantly expand protections for disabled workers and outline new requirements regarding reasonable accommodations, the interactive process, and proof of discrimination. The regulations took effect on December 30, 2012. Key provisions are set forth below.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • February 13, 2013
Regulations proposed by California's Fair Employment and Housing Commission governing disability discrimination have been finalized after public comment and are now in effect. According to the Statement of Purpose, the Commission intends that the definition of "disability" be construed as broadly as allowed by the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California's principal anti-discrimination law. The Commission urges that the primary focus in cases brought for alleged violation of the FEHA should be on whether employers have provided reasonable accommodations, whether employers and employees have met their obligations to engage in the "interactive process," and whether discrimination has occurred. The Commission opines that whether the employee meets the definition of disability "should not require extensive analysis." It is true that, in many cases, an employee's status as a disabled person will be obvious. In other cases, unfortunately, the convoluted definitions of "disability" adopted by the Commission in its efforts to define that term to the outer limits of the law will require just the sort of extensive analysis the Commission wishes to avoid – unless employers are to abandon the question of a disability's existence entirely and simply assume that anyone requesting an accommodation is disabled under the law.
Ogletree Deakins • January 16, 2013
In October 2011, the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (FEHC) proposed amended regulations governing disability discrimination, reasonable accommodation, and the interactive process under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
Jackson Lewis P.C. • September 26, 2012
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bi-partisan measure that seeks to curb rampant, frivolous Americans with Disabilities Act access lawsuits in the state and expand access to businesses for those with disabilities. This is good news for California businesses. The state reportedly has 12 percent of the country’s disabled population, but 40 percent of the nation’s ADA lawsuits.
Fisher & Phillips LLP • September 05, 2012
You've probably heard a lot recently about employees of retail stores in California standing up for their right to sit down on the job. A California state law requires store employees to be provided with seating under certain circumstances, and the courts there have been busy interpreting and applying the law in response to numerous lawsuits.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • June 07, 2012
In a much anticipated decision, a federal judge in California's Southern District ruled last week that CVS Pharmacy was not required to provide its cashiers with seats to use while operating cash registers. The plaintiff is a former customer service representative (“clerk/cashier”) at CVS who filed a lawsuit on behalf of all California customer service representatives alleging that CVS violated Wage Order 7–2001, section 14(A) when it failed to provide its clerks/cashiers with suitable seats during the performance of their job duties. Section 14 of Wage Order 7–2001 provides:
Shaw Valenza LLP • February 09, 2012
Consider this scenario: An individual calls in response to an employerâ€™s listing for a warehouse position. When asked to come in for a two-hour interview, the applicant mentions having â€œtrouble sitting for long periodsâ€ due to his â€œbad back,â€ and asks if the interview can be broken up into two, one-hour visits. He also discloses that he never graduated from high school because of a â€œlearning disability,â€ but states he has great prior experience.
Littler Mendelson, P.C. • October 25, 2011
Californiaâ€™s Governor has just signed a bill (AB 1136) requiring hospitals in his state to implement a patient handling policy that includes "lift teams" trained in moving patients with appropriate equipment. Among other things, the law provides that â€œemployer[s] shall maintain a safe patient handling policy at all times for all patient care units, and shall provide trained lift teams or other support staff trained in safe lifting techniques in each general acute care hospital.â€ Significantly, under this law, a hospital â€œemployee who refuses to lift, reposition, or transfer a patient due to concerns about patient or worker safety or the lack of trained lift team personnel or equipment shall not, based upon the refusal, be the subject of disciplinary action.â€
Shaw Valenza LLP • November 10, 2010
The court of appeal's opinion in Toyota v. Superior Court should be interesting to employment lawyers and maybe to their clients involved in employment litigation.
Ogletree Deakins • February 08, 2008
The California Supreme Court recently rejected a lawsuit brought by an employee who was terminated shortly after his employer learned that he had tested positive for marijuana. According to the court, employers have the right to conduct preemployment drug tests and to fire, or refuse to hire, individuals who test positive for illegal drugs – even if they are used for medicinal purposes. Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc., No. S138130, California Supreme Court (January 24, 2008).
Shaw Valenza LLP • January 29, 2007
Anti-discrimination laws generally are simple to understand and abide by. Employers are prohibited from making decisions that are based on illegal criteria such as race, sex, or religion. In most cases, there is a straightforward analysis regarding the reasons an employer treated a plaintiff less favorably than a similarly situated co-employee.