A disability discrimination lawsuit was filed last week against a large gas station operator by the name of Murphy Oil. The main allegation by the former employee was that the company terminated him knowing he had severe back problems instead of accommodating him in compliance with the law. The employee worked for Murphy Oil for over 10 years and was an exemplary employee who was tasked with training new employees. One of his duties was to travel for hours to remote gas stations to train.
In the beginning of the year, he was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition that caused him severe back pain and leg numbness. As result, he had surgery to implant screws in his spine as treatment for the condition. Thereafter, his physician notified him that this restricted his ability to drive long distances – which he then informed his supervisor. Shortly after, he started to receive unwarranted disciplinary write-ups, was threatened with a demotion and then fired.
California and the federal government have laws that protect employees in this regard. California has the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) and the federal government has the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). FEHA protects employees with mental and physical disabilities as well as those with qualifying medical conditions against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. An employer must “regularly” employ five or more employees to be covered by FEHA. This means that if a business has five or more regular employees, then FEHA and its protections apply to those employees.
ADA discrimination begins with protecting the job applicant, where an employer with at least 15 employees cannot discriminate against a qualified applicant with a disability. It also protects employees from unlawful termination, demotion, harassment or unfair working conditions resulting from a disability. One of the primary protections is the requirement of employers to provide “reasonable accommodation” where they must alter the way that the work may be performed, through special equipment or scheduling, to allow disabled individuals to complete their jobs. The only way that employers would not be required to provide this accommodation is if it would result in “undue hardship” to the employer. Undue hardship may be extremely problematic or costly to the employer. Either way, the disabled employee must complete the main functions of his or her job when he or she is provided with a reasonable accommodation. See these other blogs for further information on disability discrimination. Our Los Angeles based employment law attorneys carefully follow the trends in this unique area of law and provide free consultations.
If you believe that you, or another employee, suffered an employment law matter related to disability discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, prompt action to preserve your rights is vital since the statute of limitation is a short one year. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options.