One big debate in recent news was stirred by politician Rand Paul’s comments about employees on disability. Sen. Paul suggested more than half of disabled employees were “malingers” – liars who fake illness just to get out of having to work. Sen. Paul went on to belittle the majority of disabled employees, saying they are just “anxious or their back hurts” and they are not “truly disabled.”
While being a paraplegic is apparently enough for Sen. Paul to consider you “horrifically disabled” and therefore entitled to help – despite the number of persons which similar conditions who are nonetheless hardworking, employed individuals – Sen. Paul suggested that employees suffering from mental disorders and disabilities were simply “gaming the system.”
Fortunately, California law takes a very different view, recognizing that there are a number of disabilities that can make it difficult to work or engage in other major life activities. While Sen. Paul treats the 14% of disabled employees with mood disorders as freeloaders, California law specifically recognizes the disabling effect of these disorders and protects employees “[h]aving any mental or psychological disorder or condition, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities, that limits a major life activity.” In fact, two examples, clinical depression and bipolar disorder, are even mentioned in the text of the law.
As an employee in California, you are entitled to certain rights and protections if you are disabled, including reasonable accommodations for any work restrictions and protection from discrimination or being fired because of your disability, including mental illnesses. Unfortunately, some companies act more like Sen. Rand Paul than law-abiding California corporations and fail to help and protect their disabled employees. If you have been the victim of disability discrimination or mistreatment by your employer because of a disability, we may be able to help.