• Finley Employment Law

7 Things to Know About Disability Discrimination (Part 1)

Updated: Oct 5


If you believe that your current or former employer may have engaged in disability discrimination against you, below are seven things you should know about disability discrimination under California law:


No. 1: Under California law, a “physical disability” includes “[h]aving any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that…[a]ffects one or more of the following body systems: neurological, immunological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine” and “[l]imits a major life activity.” (Cal. Gov. Code Sec. 12926(m) (emphasis added).) California law also prohibits discrimination against an employee because of his/her mental disability or medical condition.

No. 2: California law defines “major life activity” broadly and includes the major life activity of working. Thus, if your physical disability “limits" your ability to work, you may have a disability under California law.


No. 3: California law requires only that your physical disability "limit" your ability to perform a major life activity. In other words, California law does not require that your physical disability result in utter inability or even substantial limitation on your ability to perform a major life activity.

No. 4: The determination of whether you have a physical disability is not necessarily based on the name of your impairment, but rather, the focus is on the effect of that impairment on you.

No. 5: California law authorizes an employer to distinguish between misconduct that is caused by the disability and the disability itself in the narrow context of threats or violence against coworkers. For instance, if an employee’s bipolar disorder causes him to make threats against a coworker, an employer may terminate this employee. Notwithstanding the employee's disability, the employer has an obligation to provide all employees with a safe work environment free from threats and violence.

No. 6: California law makes it unlawful for an employer to fail to take reasonable steps to prevent disability discrimination from occurring in the workplace.

No. 7: To prevail on a claim of disability discrimination under California law, a current or former employee must show that the adverse employment action (e.g., termination, demotion) was a substantial motivating reason for the adverse employment action.


Click here to read "7 Things to Know About Disability Discrimination (Part 2)."


If you have questions about disability discrimination under California law, call ((916) 612-0326) or email (contact@finleyemplaw.com) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Roseville, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, and Concord.

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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