Disability discrimination is illegal in California under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

A Former Employee Sues Foster Farms For Failing to Accommodate Known Disability

Disabled workers have the right to request their employer provide reasonable accommodations allowing them to continue doing their job duties. Disability discrimination is illegal in California under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

A former longtime employee of Foster Poultry Farms filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging disability discrimination, failure to engage in an interactive process, and failure to provide reasonable accommodations. She requested reasonable accommodations from her employer after breaking her left wrist in a workplace slip-and-fall accident in 2013.

Gurdip Kaur started working at Foster Poultry Farms in 2001. She was a yield monitor at one of the company’s chicken processing facilities from 2008 to 2016.

Kaur was wearing company-issued rubber boots as required by her employer when she suffered her work injury. She had surgery on her wrist after the slip and fall accident.

Upon returning to work, Kaur could not engage in pushing, pulling, or heavy lifting due to restrictions on using her left hand and wrist. She asked her supervisor for modifications. However, her job duties were not modified.

Kaur’s supervisor told her to quit if she could not do her job. She then complained to the company’s labor relations manager, Victor Moreno, who said he would handle the situation. However, the supervisor continued to ignore Kaur’s requests for accommodations.

When employees with disabilities request reasonable accommodations, employers are legally required to engage in an interactive process under the FEHA. An employer might not have to provide accommodations when doing so would result in undue hardship for the company, such as unusually high costs or disruptions to the business, however in most circumstances the employee must be accommodated.

Foster Poultry Farms underwent restructuring in the summer of 2016. Moreno told Kaur she was losing her job as a yield monitor. Additionally, given her wrist-related limitations, the only position available to her was a pallet jack driver.

Kaur knew her restrictions meant she would not be able to perform the essential functions of the job. Moreno asked her to list some positions that she could do. Even though Kaur provided seven options, he did not review the other available openings with her.

Kaur was terminated in July 2016. Moreno told her she was fired for refusing to take the pallet jack driver job. He later claimed the company had done everything required to accommodate her disability by offering her that position.

Kaur argued that the company’s refusal to transfer her to a more suitable open position constituted disability discrimination. Under the FEHA, transferring employees with disabilities to a different job they can perform is a type of reasonable accommodation. Disabled employees should receive preference in such reassignment and the employer is supposed to help them find a reassignment if they are unable to continue in their current post. Employers must also provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities when they are requested, or the need for accommodations becomes apparent.

Kaur’s case highlights employees’ difficulties when requesting workplace accommodations. If your employer discriminated against you based on your disability or failed to discuss reasonable accommodations, help is available.

A San Francisco employment lawyer can determine whether you have been subjected to disability discrimination in the workplace. Contact McCormack Law Firm to discuss your case. We offer a free initial consultation. There is no fee to speak to an employment lawyer.

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