California AB 488 Expands Protections for Severely Disabled Workers

California Assembly Bill 488 went into effect on January 1, 2017. The newly enacted law expands the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) by offering important employee protections to severely disabled workers.

Understanding California Assembly Bill 488

California AB 488 Revises the Definition of ‘Employee’

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits workplace discrimination and harassment by employers when it is based on an employee’s protected characteristic such as race, color, religion, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, religion, pregnancy, or disability. AB 488 adds Section 12926.05 to the FEHA to expand the definition of an “employee” in California.

Prior to January 1, 2017, the FEHA’s definition of “employee” excluded workers with severe disabilities (e.g. cerebral palsy, autism, Down’s syndrome, etc.) who were granted special licenses to train and work for less than minimum wage at nonprofit sheltered workshops, rehabilitation facilities, and day programs. For many years, these workers did not have equal protections under the FEHA, but AB 488 now allows them to file a claim if they are subjected to any form of workplace discrimination or harassment as defined under the FEHA – such as being paid less based on their disability.

California Law Offers Strong Protections for Disabled Workers

Since 1974, the FEHA has been at the forefront of guaranteeing that disabled workers in California have equal access to employment opportunities. While the FEHA is similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it has long defined a disability as more than just a physical or mental impairment. Under California law, workers who suffer from a wide range of disorders, conditions, and diseases can often be defined as “disabled.” And now, AB 488 ensures that severely disabled workers are offered the same employee protections as their peers.

California Assembly Bill 488: Additional Information

Contact Expert Disability Discrimination Attorneys in Los Angeles

If you feel that you have been subjected to disability discrimination in the workplace, rest assured that California employment law offers protections for employees with a wide range of disabilities. Contact our passionate Los Angeles disability discrimination attorneys at Hennig Ruiz today for a free consultation.