California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Disability

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Telecommunications Installer’s Disability Discrimination Claim Was Properly Dismissed On Summary Judgment

DFEH v. Lucent Technologies, Inc., 642 F.3d 728 (2011) The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and Steven Carauddo alleged Lucent violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act when it terminated Carauddo’s employment as an installer because he could not lift more than 30 pounds due to a back injury. The district court granted … Continue Reading

Employee With Bipolar Disorder Who Threatened Co-Workers Was Not Discriminated Against On The Basis Of Her Disability

Wills v. Superior Court, 194 Cal. App. 4th 312 (2011) Linda Wills, who worked as a clerk for the Orange County Superior Court, was terminated from her employment after she told co-workers she was going to add them to her “Kill Bill” list and forwarded a cell phone ringtone to several people, including a co-worker, … Continue Reading

Rehabilitated Drug Addict’s Disability Claims Were Properly Dismissed

Lopez v. Pacific Maritime Ass’n, 636 F.3d 1197 (2011) When Santiago Lopez first applied to be a longshoreman in 1997, his application was rejected because he tested positive for marijuana. The PMA, which represents the shipping lines, stevedore companies and terminal operators that run the ports along the west coast, follows a “one-strike rule,” which … Continue Reading

Employee Could Proceed With Disability Discrimination And Harassment Claims

Stiefel v. Bechtel Corp., 624 F.3d 1240 (2010) James Richard Stiefel worked for Bechtel as an ironworker at a power plant. Five weeks before he was laid off, Stiefel injured his left hand while on the job. In his lawsuit, Stiefel alleged Bechtel laid him off as part of a “medical reduction in force,” which … Continue Reading

Stroke Victim Could Proceed With Disability And Age Discrimination Claims

Sandell v. Taylor-Listug, Inc., 188 Cal. App. 4th 297 (2010) Robert Sandell began his employment as vice president of sales with Taylor-Listug in February 2004. Six months later, while on a six-month sabbatical from work, Sandell suffered a stroke (following a chiropractic adjustment). When Sandell returned to work in October, he was using a cane … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Approves Denial Of Employee’s Request For $871,000 In Attorney’s Fees

Chavez v. City of Los Angeles, 47 Cal. 4th 970 (2010) Over the course of six years, Robert Chavez, a Los Angeles Police Department officer, and his wife filed multiple lawsuits against the LAPD and other members of the LAPD, alleging a variety of claims involving discrimination, harassment and retaliation. In this particular lawsuit, Chavez … Continue Reading

Employer Was Entitled To Summary Judgment In Disability Discrimination Case

Scotch v. Art Inst. of Cal.-Orange County, Inc., 173 Cal. App. 4th 986 (2009) Carmine Scotch sued his former employer, the Art Institute of California-Orange County, Inc. (“AIC”) for discrimination based on his disability (HIV), failure to make reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the required interactive process, failure to maintain a workplace free of … Continue Reading

County Did Not Discriminate Against Employee With Rare Blood Disease

Wilson v. County of Orange, 169 Cal. App. 4th 1185 (2009) Julie Ann Wilson worked as a radio dispatcher for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s emergency communications system. Wilson sued the County for disability discrimination under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) on the ground that it allegedly had failed to make reasonable accommodation … Continue Reading

Diabetic Employee Was Protected Under Americans With Disabilities Act

Rohr v. Salt River Project Agric. Improvement & Power Dist., 2009 WL 349798 (9th Cir. 2009) Larry Rohr, an insulin-dependent type 2 diabetic, brought suit for employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The district court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that he failed to raise a material … Continue Reading

Catering Employee Could Proceed With Family Leave Claim, But Not Disability Claim

Avila v. Continental Airlines, Inc., 165 Cal. App. 4th 1237 (2008) Henry Avila sued his employer, Chelsea Food Services (a division of Continental Airlines), following his termination for excessive absences from work. Avila sued for disability discrimination and for violation of his rights under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”). The trial court granted summary … Continue Reading

Employee Who Reported Disability During Investigation Into His Alleged Wrongdoing Was Not Discriminated Against

Arteaga v. Brink’s, Inc., 163 Cal. App. 4th 327 (2008) Brink’s employee Carlos Arteaga was the subject of an internal investigation into various shortages totaling $7,668 that occurred while he was acting in his capacity as an ATM messenger. The investigation was conducted after one of Arteaga’s managers noticed there had been 16 shortages in … Continue Reading

Marijuana Compassionate Use Act Did Not Protect Employee From Termination

Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., 42 Cal. 4th 920 (2008) In accordance with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Proposition 215), Gary Ross had a physician’s recommendation to use marijuana for his chronic back pain. Ragingwire offered Ross a job as a lead systems administrator subject to his passing a drug test, which he failed … Continue Reading

UPS May Not Have Violated The ADA By Excluding Deaf Drivers Who Failed To Satisfy DOT Hearing Standard

Bates v. United Parcel Serv., 511 F.3d 974 (9th Cir. 2007) (en banc) One of the requirements applied by UPS to those applicants seeking to drive the familiar brown “package cars” was that they pass the physical examination (including a hearing exam) that the DOT requires of drivers of commercial vehicles of a gross vehicle weight … Continue Reading

Temporary County Employee Was Not Discriminated Against On The Basis Of Her Disability

Jenkins v. County of Riverside, 138 Cal. App. 4th 593 (2006) Evelyn Jenkins worked as a full-time “Office Assistant II” for the County for six years before her employment was terminated. During the entire six years, Jenkins was classified as a “temporary employee.” After taking a workers’ compensation leave of absence and having surgery for … Continue Reading

90-Day Period For Employer To Deny Workers’ Compensation Liability Runs From Date Claim Was Filed

Honeywell v. WCAB, 35 Cal. 4th 24 (2005) William Wagner, a sheet metal specialist for Honeywell, claimed work-related injuries to his body and psyche due to employment. On July 20, 1998, Wagner made statements that management was prejudiced against him and hampered his promotion and transfer, that he could not “take it anymore,” and that … Continue Reading

Airline May Have Unlawfully Rescinded Job Offers To HIV-Positive Applicants

Leonel v. American Airlines, Inc., 400 F.3d 702 (9th Cir. 2005) Walber Leonel and two other individuals applied for flight attendant positions with American Airlines. Plaintiffs were interviewed in Dallas and received conditional offers of employment, contingent upon their passing background checks and medical examinations. Although none of the applicants disclosed his HIV-positive status or … Continue Reading

County Employee May Plead ERISA And, Alternatively, Breach Of Contract Claims In The Same Complaint

Coleman v. Standard Life Ins. Co., 288 F. Supp. 2d 1116 (E.D. Cal. 2003) Floyd Coleman, who was employed as a probation officer for the County of Sacramento, sued Standard Life Insurance Company after it denied him long-term disability benefits for his knee condition and chronic back pain. Coleman sued for a violation of ERISA … Continue Reading

Disabled County Employees Were Not Entitled To Cash-Out Of Their Vacation Benefits

Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers’ Ass’n v. County of Los Angeles, 115 Cal. App. 4th 866 (2004) William Kupper and Bennie Layne worked as investigators for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office before becoming temporarily disabled after being injured on the job. Kupper and Layne both retired after their disabilities became permanent. Under … Continue Reading

Employer Was Liable For Discriminating Against Employee Who Filed Workers’ Compensation Claim

Crown Appliance v. WCAB, 115 Cal. App. 4th 620 (2004) Crown Appliance petitioned the Court of Appeal for a writ of review, following a determination by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) that Crown had discriminated against its employee, Morton Wong, for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Wong sustained an industrial injury to his left … Continue Reading

Employee Who Suffered “Psychiatric Injury” Due To Fluctuations In Company’s Stock Was Not Entitled To Benefits

Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. WCAB, 114 Cal. App. 4th 1174 (2004) Clifford Bryan filed a workers’ compensation claim against Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) after he was forced to leave work in October 2001 due to the stress of his job in interacting with customers who did not like the company and … Continue Reading

Union Employee’s Discrimination, Public Policy Claims Were Not Preempted By Federal Labor Law

Smith v. IBEW, Local 11, 109 Cal. App. 4th 1637 (2003) Donald Smith was terminated from his job as a union organizer for Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Smith alleged that his employment was terminated in violation of the public policy against age and disability discrimination and in violation of the … Continue Reading

Employer Did Not Discriminate By Requiring Injured Employee To Use Vacation and Sick Leave Benefits

State of Cal. Dep’t of Rehabilitation v. WCAB, 30 Cal. 4th 1281 (2003) Ronald Lauher worked as a rehabilitation counselor for the California Department of Rehabilitation for 25 years before submitting a claim for workers’ compensation benefits based on work-related stress and depression. After Lauher was diagnosed with Gerstmann’s Syndrome (a brain lesion that causes … Continue Reading

Disability Plan Administrator Was Not Required To Defer To Treating Physician’s Opinion

Black & Decker Disability Plan v. Nord, 538 U.S. 822 (2003) Kenneth L. Nord was employed by a Black & Decker subsidiary as a material planner in a job classified as “sedentary” because it required up to six hours of sitting and two hours of standing or walking per day. Nord consulted with a physician … Continue Reading

Employee Who Suffered Psychiatric Injury From Workplace Investigation Is Not Entitled To Workers’ Comp Benefits

Northrop Grumman Corp. v. WCAB, 103 Cal. App. 4th 1021 (2002) Robert C. Graves filed a workers’ compensation claim for psychiatric injuries he allegedly sustained following an investigation into his alleged racial discrimination against a subordinate employee whom he supervised at Northrop Grumman. The workers’ compensation judge (and the WCAB) found that the psychiatric injury … Continue Reading
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