Los Angeles partner David Raizman was quoted in the Daily Journal in an article titled, “Increasing Disability Discrimination Claims Bring up Fraught Workplace Issues.”
The article discusses the rise of disability discrimination and failure to accommodate disability complaints in California, a state that has long had strong provisions against workplace disability discrimination.
Lawyers on both sides of the fence attribute the increased filings to a growing awareness of workplace disability rights among employees and an increased willingness among judges to put such claims before a jury.
California legislators have long employed a broad definition of disability, for example, to include conditions that merely “limit” various life activities, as opposed to “substantially limit” such activities. Then in 2008, the U.S. Congress adopted many of California’s broad interpretations into federal law.
David, a partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group, said, “California really led the way here” and, as a result, workers in the state are more likely to see a “less traditional” disability like obesity as something to be accommodated by employers.
David said he tells his clients that if the plaintiff has a medical diagnosis of any kind, a court will most likely consider him or her disabled. He also said that plaintiffs’ lawyers have learned that the claims are likely to go before a jury because they’re “very hard to dispose of at the summary judgment stage.”
He noted that an employer’s claims of undue hardship in accommodating a disabled worker are “frankly, generally squishy concepts that are more subject to factual dispute than others.”
David added that as California’s workers age, claims of workplace disability discrimination will only continue to increase.
“Given the broad definition of disability, the population is getting more disabled,” he said.