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Litigation, P.C. Law Firm
Los Angeles Litigation Law Firm 424-284-2401

Is It Disability Discrimination If Your Employer Fired You Before Your Diagnosis?


Many health conditions do not progress in the way that Hollywood screenwriters would expect.  Symptoms can improve or worsen unexpectedly, sometimes for reasons unrelated to known triggers.  You may visit multiple doctors over a period of years, and they may disagree about the underlying cause of your symptoms.  None of this is your employer’s business, due to medical privacy laws.  Employment discrimination laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with documented disabilities.  The legal definition of a disability is broad enough to include any health condition that interferes with an employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties; disabilities can be temporary, such as the inability to drive a car or lift heavy objects for several weeks after a scheduled surgery.  Knowing when and how to request disability accommodations can be a challenge.  If you are not sure whether you need disability accommodations or how to request them, contact a Los Angeles disability discrimination lawyer.

Employer may not be able to fire you for missing work due to medical appointments

The plaintiff in this case began her job as a radio broadcaster in 1997.  In 2007, during a routine medical screening, a doctor diagnosed her with a tumor at the junction of her esophagus and stomach.  The doctor thought that the tumor was benign and told the patient that she should monitor it at subsequent visits but there was no immediate need to remove it.  It did not cause any symptoms except intermittent upper abdominal pain.  In August 2010, the plaintiff experienced nausea and vomiting, and her doctor recommended removing the tumor.  Even after the symptoms resolved, the doctor continued to recommend removing it.  Hesitant to have an invasive surgery involving removal of parts of her stomach and esophagus, the plaintiff sought the opinions of several other doctors, all of whom advised her to have the surgery.

During this process, the plaintiff arrived late to work several times per month.  She told her supervisor about the tumor and the tests she was undergoing.  The supervisor appeared concerned and even texted the plaintiff in the evening to wish her well after the plaintiff had undergone a biopsy.  To the plaintiff’s surprise, the supervisor fired her in November 2011 because of her habitual tardiness.  The plaintiff filed a disability discrimination lawsuit, but the court issued a summary judgment in favor of the employer.  The court reasoned that the plaintiff’s health condition did not qualify as a disability, because it was mostly asymptomatic and did not interfere with her ability to do her job.  The plaintiff appealed the ruling, and the appeals court reinstated her lawsuit.

Speak With a Los Angeles Disability Discrimination Lawyer

Disability accommodations are usually the result of negotiations between the employer and the employee.  A Los Angeles employment discrimination lawyer can help you navigate the process of requesting accommodations for a disability.  Contact Litigation, P.C. in Los Angeles, California to discuss your situation or call (424)284-2401.


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