What to Know

Medical Discrimination in a Workplace in California

Medical Discrimination. Los Angeles, California.

If you believe you lost a job because of medical discrimination in a workplace, call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your case.

We do not charge for consultations.

We represent clients in Los Angeles and the state of California.

Medical discrimination laws

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit medical discrimination in the workplace. In addition, these medical discrimination laws require employers to provide employees with reasonable accommodations for medical conditions and disabilities.

Examples of medical discrimination in the workplace

Medical discrimination occurs where an employer unlawfully treats an employee differently from other employees based on an actual or perceived medical condition. This can include refusing to hire or promote an employee, firing an employee, compensating an employee differently than other employees, and harassment.

In California, while employers can't discriminate, they can refuse to hire or give an employee some responsibility if a medical condition would make doing that job unsafe for the employee or others.

Can you sue for medical discrimination in California?

Yes. If your employer is covered by FEHA or the ADA and has discriminated against you based on an actual or perceived medical condition, you may be able to sue.

FEHA's anti-discrimination provisions apply to employers with five or more employees, and the ADA covers those with fifteen or more employees.

The ADA defines a medical condition as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more essential life activities. FEHA uses a similar, although slightly less restrictive, definition of a medical condition.

It's essential to consult with a medical discrimination lawyer to see if your claim meets these and other California requirements.

What to do if you are a victim of medical discrimination

If you experienced medical discrimination, one option is to file an official complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If you don't want to wait for one of those agencies to conduct an investigation, you may be able to get a right-to-sue notice. However, the DFEH recommends this path only with representation by a qualified attorney.

Proving medical discrimination

While most employers are sophisticated enough not to admit that a decision or action is motivated by medical condition bias, often, you don't need their admission. Evidence of medical discrimination include:

Being treated differently than other employees without your medical condition

Derogatory comments by a supervisor about people with medical conditions

Treatment that is so severe or unjust that it indicates discrimination

A history of bias against other employees by your employer

The violation of a well-established policy

Medical discrimination: COVID

The ADA permits employers to take specific steps to screen employees for an active COVID-19 infection, including taking temperature and inquiring about symptoms; they can require employees to stay home while they are infected. However, as with other medical conditions, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations and may not discriminate based on a past COVID-19 infection.

At the time of writing, under the ADA, your employer cannot require an antibody test as a condition to return to work.

Medical discrimination for not wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic

Employers may require employees to wear masks and other protective gear and to observe infection control practices like regular handwashing. While your employer would be required to make reasonable accommodations if a medical condition prevented you from safely wearing a mask, only a few medical conditions qualify for this exception.

Sick leave discrimination

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) require private companies with 50 or more employees and all public employers to provide employees up to 12 weeks of time off per year.

To be eligible for FMLA/CFRA leave, you must:

Work for that employer for a minimum of 12 months and

Have worked 1,250 or more hours in the 12 months preceding your medical leave.

Although FMLA/CFRA leave is usually unpaid, you may have the right to paid sick leave and paid vacation time. And if you’re enrolled in your employer’s health plan, you’re entitled to continue with that health plan throughout your leave.

FMLA and CFRA grant an employee the right to reinstatement in the employee's former position or a comparable position, i.e., virtually identical to the original regarding pay, benefits, and working conditions.

If you think you were the target of CFRA or FMLA discrimination, you may be able to recover money damages or force your employer to comply with the law. For further information, call us at 888-762-0297 and ask to speak with a medical discrimination lawyer.

Chronic illness workplace discrimination

Chronic illnesses that qualify as medical conditions under California's FEHA and the ADA are subject to the same non-discrimination provisions applicable to other medical conditions. It means a covered employer can't discriminate based on qualifying chronic illnesses and must provide you with reasonable accommodations.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

The federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits discrimination based on an employee's genetic information. In practice, this generally means that your employer cannot seek information from genetic tests of you or family members, nor can your employer seek information about your family's medical history.

However, certain exceptions apply. For more information, call our office.

What compensation to expect in a medical discrimination lawsuit in California?

Each case is different, and compensation in medical discrimination suits varies. However, courts can award money damages for back pay with interest and income lost because of a denied raise or promotion, benefits, bonuses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Courts can also require employers to take certain actions like rehiring an improperly terminated employee.

Time limits to file a medical discrimination claim

In most cases, you must file a medical discrimination lawsuit within three years of the last instance of discrimination. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For more information call our office.

Can I file a medical discrimination claim without an attorney?

There's no requirement that you hire a lawyer to file a claim, but it is wise to talk to an attorney to understand how strong your claim is and what you'll need to do to succeed.

For more information

To discuss your case, call us at 888-762-0297 and ask to speak with an attorney who handles medical discrimination cases.

Consultations are free.

We represent clients in Los Angeles and other cities in California.

Last updated on July 2, 2021.

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