Lawsuit: California man’s disability not accommodated by employer

San Diego residents who are disabled or have impairments that affect their abilities to perform certain tasks may understand that they are not suited for doing some types of work. However, a disability or impairment does not mean that an individual cannot work.

To protect the disabled, the Americans with Disabilities Act and anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from discriminating against current employees or prospect employees on the basis of one’s disability. Employers also cannot turn job applicants down simply because they have a disability. Employers may be quick to assume that an individual with an impairment is not capable of performing certain job functions, but state and federal laws require employers in California to make reasonable accommodations for disabled workers so they can successfully do their jobs.

The failure to make reasonable accommodations may result in a disability discrimination lawsuit. However, a recent case from California does point out that when it comes to disability discrimination in the workplace, only the wronged employee can file a lawsuit against his or her employer. An employee’s spouse or family member does not have a legal right to take such action.

Although a spouse may be affected when his or her wife or husband is harmed by disability discrimination in the workplace, or an employer’s failure to make reasonable accommodations, the court ruled in a recent case that a wronged employee’s spouse cannot sue for damages in addition to the wronged employee. The court clarified that the employee who is harmed by disability discrimination is the only individual who has a legal right to seek compensation for damages.

The case the court had recently made a ruling on had been filed by a couple in California. The husband suffered from a disability and had asked his employer to allow him to wear a mask while doing his job. The man worked as a custodian for a school district. He also asked to avoid doing tasks that required him to use cleaning products. The lawsuit claimed that the school refused to make these accommodations.

After the custodian had suffered a stroke, he was unable to return to his job. Although the man’s wife may have suffered financial consequences as a result of her husband’s illness and disability, the court ruled that only the man can sue his employer for wrongdoings.

If you are disabled and believe that your rights have been violated in the workplace, you may want to consult an attorney before taking legal action to make sure your case is handled as strategically and effectively as possible.

Source: Business Management, “Only employee-not his spouse-can sue for disability discrimination,” April 19, 2013


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