In responding to claim of harassment, discrimination or retaliation based on protected categories, California employers must timely respond to and thoroughly investigate workplace complaints to avoid exposure. On July 9, 2018, a California Court of Appeal court found an employer liable where an employee was mocking a person for having a stutter on more than five, but less than fifteen occasions over a two-year period from 2006 to 2008. In Caldera v. Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, et al., the plaintiff brought suit after allegedly being subject to jokes over a two-year period of time. The jury awarded plaintiff $500,000. The trial court, finding the jury award excessive, granted a new trial as to damages. Both parties appealed.
Articles Discussing Disability Discrimination Claims Under California Law.
In Bustos v. Global P.E.T., Inc., (E065869, Cal. Ct. App. January 16, 2018), Plaintiff William Bustos and a number of his co-workers were terminated by Global in an economic layoff. Bustos sued Global alleging his disabilities were a substantial motivating reason for his termination.
Is obesity a disability under California law? Are a supervisor’s alleged “fat remarks” sufficient evidence of disability discrimination? On December 21, 2017, a California Appellate Court published an extensive decision regarding obesity as a disability under California law and issued further guidance on both counts.
We previously reported that the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held that an employer’s denial of accommodation to a nondisabled employee may serve as evidence of association discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Castro Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc. (2016) 2 Cal. App. 5th 1028. In Castro Ramirez, the employee alleged that he was terminated from employment after he made complaints about changes to his work schedule which impacted his ability to be at home during his disabled son’s dialysis treatments. On the surface, this seemed like a claim for reasonable accommodation (i.e., a modified work schedule) by a non-disabled employee and we all know that only disabled folks are entitled to receive reasonable accommodations. Easy decision, right? Wrong.
What is a disability? And when are employers on notice to provide employees leave? These were some of the questions raised in the California Court of Appeals (Second Appellate District) November 15, 2016 decision, Soria v. Univision Radio Los Angeles, Inc.
On October 7, 2016, Dependable Highway Express filed a petition asking the California Supreme Court to review a decision to allow a non-disabled employee to pursue his claim of association based disability discrimination. The employee alleged that he was terminated from employment after he made complaints about changes to his work schedule which impacted his ability to be at home during his disabled son’s treatments.
On August 29, 2016, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District reversed summary judgment earlier awarded to the employer in Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc. In its reversal, the court found that an employer’s denial of accommodation to a nondisabled employee may be evidence of associational disability discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”).
Today, a California Court of Appeal issued its opinion in Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, holding that the plaintiff-employee had a colorable claim for disability discrimination against his employer – even though the plaintiff-employee was not himself disabled. Instead, the employee’s son was disabled with a kidney condition that required daily dialysis treatments. His father, who was employed by DHE, was the only one in the family trained to administer the dialysis treatments. Based on his daily need to assist with treating his son, the employee requested to work an early shift that allowed him to be home in the evening to administer the dialysis. For some time, the company accommodated the employee’s scheduling request. Then, a new supervisor took over and assigned the employee to work a later shift. The employee refused, stating that it interfered with his ability to be home for his son’s treatments. The employee was fired for refusing to work as scheduled.
Last week, in Thomsen v. Georgia-Pacific Corrugated, LLC, a federal district court in California held that an employer might have violated its obligations under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) when it simply told an employee to return to his doctor to obtain a note outlining additional work restrictions. The Court held that a reasonable jury could find that the employer was obligated to do more than tell the Plaintiff to go back to his physician and get a new doctor’s note, especially because evidence suggested it would have been possible to respond to some of Plaintiff’s concerns without a new doctor’s note.
In Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc., decided April 4, 2016, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District held California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who are associated with a person with disabilities.
On April 4, 2016, the California Supreme Court took a stand by issuing a long-awaited opinion in Kirby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. The decision clarifies certain ambiguities in an employer’s obligation to provide suitable seating to employees. At issue was a provision in California’s Wage Orders that requires employers to provide all employees “with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” The Court held that “nature of the work” refers to the task performed at a given location where the employee is claiming a right to a suitable seat, instead of a holistic approach. The Court also adopted a “totality of the circumstances” test to assess whether a work location “reasonably permits” suitable seating.
Executive Summary: The California Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy/Henderson v. JPMorgan Chase has clarified the state’s standards concerning when employers must provide suitable seating to their employees. While the holding will permit employees to sit on the job under certain circumstances based on the nature of work actually performed (rather than an abstract, such as a job description), the state high court validated a reasonable interpretation of the requirement that permits employers to use their business judgment (including customer service considerations) and the physical layout of workspaces when determining whether seating is required.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) both require employers to make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities, provided that the accommodations do not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer.
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).
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.