People with disability may have physical limitations; however, it does not mean that they can no longer contribute to the society. Many disabled people desire to do fulfilling work and they deserve to be given the chance to rightfully do so.

Americans with Disabilities Act

There are many instances that job applicants with physical or mental disability are turned down by employers because they find them as liabilities to their business. However, this practice by employers is in clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Under ADA, it is unlawful for any employer to discriminate against applicants and employees based on their disability.

Fair Employment and Housing Act

In California, the ADA is backed with a state statute, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Pursuant to FEHA, employers in California are prohibited from committing employment discrimination and harassment based on a person’s disability.

The Act provides employment protection to employees or applicants with mental or physical disabilities, including HIV and AIDS. The statute also assures the rights of workers with health conditions that are characterized as either cancer or genetic characteristics. However, people with sexual behavior disorders, kleptomania, and illegal drug dependence are not protected under FEHA.

Reasonable accommodation

FEHA requires employers to reasonably accommodate applicants and employees with mental or physical disabilities. Pursuant to FEHA, an employer based in California should maximize all probable means of reasonably receiving an individual before making any employment decision. Employers may change job duties or work hours, transfer work area, or provide mechanical or electrical aids to a disabled employee.

Under FEHA, an employment decision based on any of the following cannot be considered as a discriminatory act:

•    If an employee is unable to do work functions and no reasonable accommodation is available that would help him or her to do work duties
•    If continuing work would harm the employee or others and no reasonable accommodation is present that would remove or reduce the danger

Filing a disability discrimination claim

Employees or applicants who experienced disability discrimination in the workplace are advised to submit a complaint to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

These agencies can initiate a thorough investigation to determine whether or not the acts experienced by the complainants are indeed discriminatory in nature. Furthermore, they can act as mediator to settle the case, or they can file a case against the non-complying employer/s.

It is also advisable for complainants to get help from a Los Angeles employment lawyer who can help them carry out all necessary legal actions.