People with disability have every right to enjoy the perks of employment without the prejudice. Thus, federal and state laws were mandated to assure that such thing won't happen. California and its Department of Fair Employment in particular, enforced the Fair Employment and Housing Act in 1974.

Under FEHA, employers, labor organizations, employment agencies or other entities are not allowed to discriminate an employee not only because of his disability but also on his race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or age. Retaliation from the employer is also punishable. The following are three questions about disability discrimination.

How does FEHA define disability?

The FEHA tackled disability differently compared to Americans with Disability Act. A person with disability may require special education or any related services, and the person impaired already has a record of the disability or is known to have such. Disability is categorized into two, and an additional "medical condition" is also defined.

  • Physical – Any physiological disease, disorder, cosmetic disfigurement or anatomical loss that affects the bodily systems (neurological, immunological, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, lymphatic, endocrine, etc.), limits its functions, and makes the achievement makes the achievement of a major life activity difficult.

  • Mental – Mental or psychological disorder like retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness or learning disabilities that limits major life activities.

  • Mental condition – A health impairment related to diagnosis of cancer, a history of cancer, or a genetic characteristic (a medically identifiable gene or chromosome that may develop the disease).

What are required of employers?

There are two things that employers should do under FEHA.

  • Provide reasonable accommodation to disabled applicants and employees in order to perfectly perform the essential functions of their job.

  • Communicate in a timely manner and in good faith with the applicant or employee who needs accommodation.

Must an applicant or employee always be accommodated?

There is a certain limitation as to the amount of accommodation the employer can provide. If accommodation presents undue hardship to the employer, he may deny giving it to the employee. The hardship should be proven by different factors.

  • Nature and cost of the accommodation

  • Financial resources of the facilities providing the accommodation

  • Number of people employed at that facility

  • Effect on expenses and resources of the accommodation to the operation of said facility

  • Overall financial resources of the employer

  • Size of the business (number of employees and the number, type, and locations of facilities)

  • Type of operations of the workforce

  • Geographic division, administrative relationship of the facilities