Your boss stresses you out: Can that be a recognized disability?

Most California workers who have toiled for at least a few years at one or more workplaces have confronted — either indirectly or quite personally — the manager from, well, another place.

That person breathes fire. He or she induces a blood pressure spike in every employee interacted with. The “bad” supervisor yells, belittles, hands out impossible assignments, publicly denigrates and often bullies subordinates.

Such behavior understandably results in affected employees sometimes reaching for the Advil bottle.

But can it also be legally recognized as the source for a recognized disability that mandates an employer’s reasonable accommodation at the workplace? Can it perhaps be justification for a stressed-out worker’s transition to another company position entailing reporting duties to a different manager?

A California appellate court recently weighed in on that question in its consideration of a worker’s claim that her employer had gone too far when it wrongfully terminated her without allowing her to transition to another work assignment.

As noted in a media overview of the case, the court conceded that, while the inability to perform a certain job with one employer might be grounds for establishing a disability, the inability of an employee to work with one manager “was simply a bridge too far.”

The terminated worker based her complaint on applicable law set forth in California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. The court noted that protections for disabled workers under FEHA are even more expansive than what is provided for pursuant to federal law contained in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Notwithstanding that, though, the court simply found that a disability claim based on the inability to work with a single manager was too much of a stretch.

Workplace disability can be complex and also based on the intersection of both federal and state enactments. A proven employment law attorney can fully discuss a disability-related matter and provide knowledge representation to any client needing legal assistance.

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