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California's laws surrounding the handling of disabled employees

In California, there are a number of pieces of legislation that exist to protect those with disabilities from being discriminated against. Among those, there is the Fair Employment and Housing Act, Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

Under California law, employers are precluded from treating their disabled employees any differently from others. This rule applies whether they've been told about an individual's disability, merely believe the individual to have one or are aware that the employee knows someone who does.

Applicants for jobs are also afforded the same anti-discrimination protections. Any applicant to or employee of any public or private company must be provided with reasonable accommodations or risk being held liable for violating both state and federal laws. The only excuse for not upholding the rights of disabled individuals is if the employer can prove that doing so presents some type of "undue hardship" for them.

An additional guideline that employers are required to follow in their handling of disabled applicants is to remain impartial in considering the individual for the vacancy. In interviewing prospective employee, it's illegal to ask them about the severity of their disability. That individual can't be asked to submit to any additional psychological or medical exams beyond what other prospective employees are expected to complete either.

Employers are, however, allowed to ask prospective employees whether they will need "reasonable accommodation" to complete job tasks. They also can ask either applicants or their employees for a copy of their medical certificate, which highlights their need for reasonable accommodation.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing notes that, in instances in which employers question whether they can properly accommodate a disabled employee, communication can go a long ways. They note that it's important for employers to clearly define what the job's core functions are and what accommodations would need to be made to make them more easily completed by the disabled employee.

It's only then that they'll be able to know whether accommodating the employee would produce an undue hardship for them.

If you have a disability and you feel that you've been discriminated against in either completing the application and interview process or once hired, then you may be able to work with a Sherman Oaks, California, employment law attorney to file a civil rights claim against your employer.

Source: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, "Discrimination laws regarding people with disabilities," accessed July 28, 2017

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