Your Rights Under Pregnancy and/or Maternity Leave
September 2, 2016
California Court of Appeal Finds that Employees are Protected from Associational Disability Discrimination
September 14, 2016
In a landmark ruling on August 29, 2016, the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, published Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Inc. (Case Nos. B261165, B262524), reversing a trial court's dismissal of a discrimination action and finding employees who have been terminated or otherwise discriminated against because a family member has a disability or medical condition may bring discrimination claims.
In the case, the plaintiff alleged that, when DHE hired him to work as a truck driver in 2010, he told them he had a disabled son who required dialysis on a daily basis and he (the plaintiff) was responsible for administering the dialysis. The plaintiff requested work schedule accommodations that his supervisor initially granted, permitting him to attend to his son in the evening. In 2013, a new supervisor changed his work schedule. Plaintiff complained to the new supervisor about the change in schedule. On April 23, 2013, the supervisor gave plaintiff the 12:00 p.m. shift. Plaintiff objected and explained that the shift would not allow him to be home early enough in the evening to tend to his disabled son. The supervisor spoke to a manager and then terminated plaintiff's employment. The supervisor told plaintiff he “had quit by choosing not to take the assigned shift.”
Initially, the trial court dismissed the case claiming that because the Plaintiff was not disabled, he was not protected by FEHA. The Court of Appeal reversed, finding that:
"FEHA provides a cause of action for associational disability discrimination, although it is a seldom-litigated cause of action...The very definition of a 'physical disability' embraces association with a physically disabled person. FEHA explains that the phrase 'physical disability’ … includes a perception … that the person is associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have a physical disability...Accordingly, when FEHA forbids discrimination based on a disability, it also forbids discrimination based on a person's association with another who has a disability."
Employees who have been terminated, demoted or otherwise discriminated against because they must care for a sick or disabled family member may have claims against their employer.
This publication is not intended to provide legal advice but to provide general information on legal issues. It is not intended to create and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Readers should seek specific legal advice before taking any action with respect to matters mentioned in this publication.