California radio personality sues station for disability discrimination

A California case provides an example that can resonate with anyone that is the victim of employment discrimination.

Discrimination can happen to anyone, anywhere. A case is currently underway that questions whether or not a radio station discriminated against one of its own on air personalities. The case provides lessons that can help others who believe they are the victims of workplace discrimination.

What led to allegations of workplace discrimination in this case?

The case involves a former on-air radio personality who hosted a mid-day radio show from 1997 until her position was terminated in 2011. Part of her job description included a requirement that she arrive thirty minutes prior to going on air to review the "audio log" and research relevant topics for the show.

In 2007, the woman was diagnosed with a tumor between her esophagus and stomach. At the time, no treatment was required and the woman chose to monitor the growth. In 2011, the woman experienced spells of nausea and vomiting. Examination revealed that the tumor had grown. The woman sought the advice of four different medical professionals, all of whom informed the woman that tumor may now be malignant and should be removed. The woman requested time off or notified her employer that she would be late to her job in order to attend appointments to deal with this condition.

In November of 2011, the woman was fired from her job. Her supervisor stated the termination was due to tardiness and lack of preparation. In response, the woman filed a claim alleging multiple causes of action including a disability discrimination and wrongful termination.

What protections are available in California for victims of disability discrimination?

California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides protections to workers against discrimination based on a number of protected categories. These categories include race, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, medical conditions, marital status and military status. It is illegal for employers to hire, fire, promote or retaliate against a worker based on one of these categories.

If an employer is found to violate this law, remedies are available to victims. These remedies can include reinstatement to a terminated position, damages for emotional stress and punitive damages as well as attorney's fees and costs.

How can a victim establish that he or she suffered from workplace discrimination?

One way to establish a case for discrimination involves showing that four elements were met. These elements involve showing that the victim was a member of a protected class, that he or she was qualified for the position or performing competently in the position, that there was an adverse employment action and that circumstances suggest a discriminatory motive.

In this case, the woman contends that her illness meets both the protected class category of a medical condition and the disability category. She also contends that she was performing her work competently and supports this claim with records of positive reviews and the allocation of a full bonus the previous year. Her termination qualifies as an adverse employment action and although the employer claims that the termination was due to a legitimate reason, the employee counters that it this reason was simply pretextual.

What about victims of similar instances of discrimination?

This case shows the struggle employees with disabilities and health conditions can face in the workplace. Due to the many layers of these cases, it is wise for those who believe they are victims of discrimination to contact an experienced attorney.