• Finley Employment Law

Arteaga v. Brink's Inc.: What Is a "Disability" Under California Law?



Under California law, an employer may not terminate an employee’s employment because of the employee’s disability. The question is: what qualifies as a “disability” under California law?

According to a California Court of Appeal case, pain and numbness alone do not necessarily qualify as a “disability” under California law, meaning that an employee cannot assert a successful claim for disability discrimination on that basis alone. In Arteaga v. Brink's, Inc., 163 Cal.App.4th 327 (2008), an employee at an armored transportation company notified his employer that he was suffering from pain and numbness in his arms, fingers, shoulders, and feet.

The Court of Appeal concluded that the employee did not have an actual disability under California law because his symptoms did not make the performance of his job duties difficult as compared to his unimpaired state or to the average unimpaired person. In reaching this conclusion, the Court of Appeal pointed out that the employee “did not say what kind of pain he experienced, for example, tingling, aching, burning, stinging, stabbing, or throbbing. Nor did he use words indicating the of pain, such as minor, mild, moderate, severe, intense, extreme, or unbearable. He merely reported feeling some kind of pain.” 163 Cal.App.4th at 347.

The Arteaga case illustrates the simple principle that pain, without more, is not enough to support a successful disability discrimination claim in California. Otherwise, as the Court of Appeal pointed out, "every headache would give rise to a triable [disability discrimination] claim." (Id. at 351.) Read the full Court of Appeal opinion here.

If you believe that you have been subjected to disability discrimination at work, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (contact@finleyemplaw.com) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Granite Bay, and Elk Grove.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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