If you’re like many people who have been medically discriminated against, you’re wondering if you can sue an employer for it. Here’s what you need to know.
Can You Sue an Employer for Medical Discrimination?
In some cases, you can sue an employer for medical discrimination. However, although medical discrimination is illegal, not everyone with a medical condition is protected under the law. Sometimes what looks like discrimination isn’t actually discrimination – at least not legally. For example, if having a certain medical condition would make it unsafe for you to perform a certain job, the employer could refuse to hire you on that basis. In that case, it wouldn’t be discrimination; it would be the employer keeping you and others safe.
Related: California Employee Rights
Suing an Employer for Medical Discrimination
You can only sue an employer for medical discrimination if the employer has done certain things that violate the law. However, you don’t have to actually have a medical condition to sue – if the employer thinks you have a medical condition but you don’t, and still discriminates against you anyway, you may be able to sue. Every case is different, though, so it’s usually a good idea to talk to an attorney.
Medical discrimination includes an employer:
- Refusing to hire you based on an actual or perceived medical condition
- Firing you over an actual or perceived medical condition
- Passing you over for a training program based on an actual or perceived medical condition
- Giving you fewer or different privileges or different compensation based on an actual or perceived medical condition
- Demoting you or forcing you to quit over an actual or perceived medical condition
- Reducing your pay or denying you benefits based on an actual or perceived medical condition
Medical Conditions Under the Americans With Disabilities Act
Some medical conditions are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA “prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.”
The ADA distinguishes between medical conditions that result in minor impairments and those that qualify as major impairments. Major impairments are those that limit major life activities, like caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing and hearing, speaking and walking.
What About Reasonable Accommodations?
Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need them, but there are a few caveats to that. For example, if providing a reasonable accommodation would be too expensive or if it would be unreasonable, the employer may not have to do it. If you end up suing an employer for failing to make reasonable accommodations, the court will look at several factors – including the company’s size, its financial resources, and the needs of the business.
Related: Reasonable Accommodations: What You Need to Know
Who is Protected Under Medical Discrimination Laws?
If you’re not sure whether you fall under medical discrimination laws, here’s what you need to know:
- You must be considered an employee or applicant
- Your employer must be subject to the law
- Your employer’s conduct must be discriminatory
Employers Subject to Anti-Discrimination Laws
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, is what protects many Californians against medical discrimination. FEHA applies to public and private employers, employment agencies and labor organizations. It applies to employers with five or more employees. Federal laws apply, too, but as in most cases, the law that provides the broadest protection is the one California courts fall back on – and in this case, FEHA provides more protection than the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Could You Sue Your Employer for Medical Discrimination?
If you believe you could have a case against an employer for medical discrimination, it’s worth calling a Glendale employment lawyer. Your attorney will ask you questions about what happened and hear you out – and if it looks like you have a case, your lawyer will let you know. Remember, even if something looks like discrimination, it may be allowed under the law (such as when a medical condition would prevent you from safely performing a job).
Call us at 818-230-8380 for a free consultation with a Glendale employment lawyer. We may be able to help you.