Calling Employee 'a Liability' Is Enough to Keep Disability Discrimination Claim Alive

December 01, 2022 | From HRCalifornia Extra

by Christina J. Baggett, Esq. Associate General Counsel at Meta Platforms, Inc. 

It’s well known that individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination under both state and federal law. Specifically, on the statewide front, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects job applicants and employees from “discrimination due to an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment that is disabling, potentially disabling, or perceived as disabling or potentially disabling.”

A recent California Court of Appeals case not only reminds employers of their duty not to discriminate based on an applicant or employee’s actual or perceived disability, but also demonstrates where an employer’s obligations begin with respect to engaging in the interactive process and providing a reasonable accommodation. Here, the employer rescinded a job offer and terminated employment because it believed the employee may be “a liability” due to a physical limitation, which the Court of Appeal held was enough to keep the employee’s claim for disability discrimination alive (Price v. Victor Valley Unified School District, Super. Ct. No. CIVDS1900178 (November 9, 2022)).

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