What disabilities are covered under California employment discrimination laws?

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What disabilities are covered under California employment discrimination laws?

Most workers know that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their disability. However, many employees wonder if their medical condition is a covered disability under California Law. California discrimination law covers most disabilities and medical conditions. Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, any disease or health condition that affects one of the body’s major systems and limits the ability to work, is a covered disability.

The list of covered disabilities is nearly endless, but below are some common conditions:

  • Back, Shoulder or Neck pain
  • Carpal Tunnel or other arm/wrist injuries
  • Injuries to arms, legs or any other part of the body
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Heart condition
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy or any pregnancy-related condition including post-partum depression
  • Use of a wheelchair or other mobility limitations
  • Difficulty hearing or seeing
  • Mental health conditions
  • Any other illness, injury, disease, disfigurement, or health condition that limits your ability to do your regular job duties.

California employment law protects workers with disabilities and medical conditions that affect their ability to do their regular job duties. Any employer with at least 5 employees has a legal duty to try to accommodate the employee if possible, such as through medical leave of absence, modified equipment, light duty, reduced hours, or reassignment. However, as the accommodation must be tailored to the employee’s specific issue, the options are nearly limitless.

It is a good idea to provide your employer with a doctor’s note stating the accommodation needed if possible. But if you simply notify a manager or H.R. of your need, the employer must discuss accommodation with you.

Not every condition can be accommodated, and not every accommodation is possible. Some health conditions like a common cold, bruised arm, or garden-variety stress and depression may not rise to this level. An employer may also be able to argue the accommodation is too costly or difficult. However, if your employer refuses to accommodate your condition, or terminates you instead, then you should contact an employment lawyer immediately.

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