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Can I Sue for Being Fired from My Job for Having a Disability?
Yes, you can sue for being fired from your job for having a disability. However, claims for being fired for a disability require a close examination of the facts and the laws involved by someone with the requisite knowledge and skill. Therefore, it is important to promptly Contact an experienced employment law attorney in the event that you believe you have been fired for having a disability.
If an employer treats a worker with a disability differently, or less favorably, because that worker has a disability, then the employer may have discriminated against that worker. One of the most obvious forms of Disability Discrimination occurs when a worker is fired for having a disability. While the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (42 United States Code section 12101 et seq.) prohibits disability discrimination in employment situations, California workers with disabilities mainly rely on the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (California Government Code sections 12900 – 12996). FEHA provides broad protections against disability discrimination in the workplace. FEHA prohibits employers with five (5) or more employees from discriminating against disabled workers because of their disability. FEHA prohibits all employers, regardless of size, from harassing an employee because of his or her disability. FEHA protects workers with physical disabilities and mental disabilities, as well as medical conditions, which are defined as health impairments related to Cancer or genetic characteristics associated with an increased risk of developing a disease or disorder. FEHA prohibits discrimination based on a disability regardless of whether the condition is presently disabling. Therefore, if you have been fired for having a disability, your former employer has likely violated California law. You have a right to sue your former employer through a private lawsuit in civil court. Under FEHA, through a private lawsuit you may be entitled to:
- Recover Wages and job benefits you lost because you were fired for having a disability.
- Lost future earnings you are likely to suffer before you secure new employment because you were fired for having a disability.
- Recover damages for the Emotional Distress (mental anguish) you suffered because you were fired for having a disability.
- Other quantifiable losses, such as medical expenses (e.g. psychologist and medication costs), moving expenses, and job search expenses.
- Future quantifiable losses you are likely to sustain, such as estimated future medical expenses for care related to the emotional distress you suffered because you were fired for having a disability.
- Reinstatement to your former job position or to the position to which you would have been promoted had you not been fired for having a disability.
- An award of reasonable Attorney Fees and Costs incurred in bringing a lawsuit against your former employer because you were fired for having a disability.
- An award of Punitive Damages, which are damages you may recover in addition to actual damages you incurred, such as emotion distress damages. Punitive damages are intended to make an example of your former employer for oppressive, fraudulent, or malicious conduct and to punish your former employer for such conduct.
- Write down the facts of your situation—describing what happened in chronological order, if possible—that led to you being fired for having a disability.
- Write down the names (as well as their job positions and contact information, to the extent possible) of all individuals who you believe were responsible for you being fired for having a disability.
- Write down the names (as well as their job positions and contact information, to the extent possible) of all individuals you believe were witnesses to the events leading to you being fired for having a disability.
- Gather any documents and other evidence related to you being fired for having a disability.
- Gather any documents related in any way to your employment, including
- Paystubs (wage statements), including any paystub reflecting your final paycheck.
- Papers you received from your former employer upon being hired.
- Reviews of your work performance and disciplinary paperwork, if any, as well as paperwork reflecting any pay raises or promotions you received during your employment.
- Written company policies of any kind, including employee handbooks.
- Emails and texts between you and your supervisors and coworkers.
- Any letters you received from or sent to your former employer.
Under FEHA, there are instances when an employer may have a legitimate reason for firing an employee for having a disability. However, a close examination of the precise facts involved in any given situation is necessary to determine whether an employer did in fact have a legitimate reason for the termination.
- An employer may have a legitimate reason for terminating an employee for having a disability if the employee is no longer able to perform his or her job and no reasonable accommodation the employer could provide to the employee would enable the employee to ever return to his or her job. (A reasonable accommodation is a practical adjustment your employer makes to your job, or the work environment associated with your job so that you, as a disabled employee, can perform the essential job duties–e.g. the performance of which is the reason the job position exists—of your job position).
- An employer may have a legitimate reason for terminating an employee if the employee is no longer able to perform his or her job without creating an imminent and substantial danger to the employee or other persons in the workplace and no reasonable accommodation the employer could provide to the employee would enable the employee to ever perform his or her job without creating an imminent and substantial danger to the employee or other persons in the workplace. Your employer would have the burden to prove that you could not safely perform your job with or without accommodation.
If you believe your former employer fired for having a disability, or if you believe your employer or former employer has otherwise violated your rights, call the experienced employment law attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.