California Employment Law: FEHA / ADA Interactive Process

interactive-process-FEHA-disabilityAs I work and get in get in contact with more San Francisco area employers and employees, I can’t help but be amazed at the liability exposure that the companies-employers incur as a result of their human resources’ managers ignorance of the basic disability laws that lead do series of wrongful terminations, and retaliatory demotions, suspensions and transfers, many of which are unlawful under California law.

At first, I thought my experience was an exception, but after speaking with many of my fellow employment lawyers in the area, I realized that we all noticed that the vast majority of human resources managers do not even have a general idea about what “interactive process” of employees who are disabled or perceived to be disabled is. Many of them don’t even know that in most cases it is illegal to terminate employee because of his or her disability even if he or she is an at-will employee, because while at-will employment allows an employer to terminate employee for any reason, no reason or arbitrary reason, it does not permit terminating employees for unlawful discriminatory and retaliatory reasons. .

These seemingly technical violations often lead to mediation, arbitration and trial verdicts of hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, including punitive damages and attorneys fees against employers.