According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) has ruled that a workers’ compensation discrimination claim under Labor Code Section 132(a) is a wholly separate legal action from a disability discrimination claim under FEHA, Fair Employment and Housing Act. A worker who had her Labor Code 132(a) claim denied can still pursue an FEHA claim for failure to accommodate. In this blog post, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorney provides a more in-depth overview of the decision from the California court.
Background: Labor Code 132(a) and FEHA
In California, employers must provide no-fault workers’ compensation coverage to their staff members. By law, workers’ compensation coverage in the state protects workers against certain forms of discrimination. Workers disabled due to a work injury may also have additional protections under other areas of California law. Here are the key things to know:
- Labor Code 132(a): California’s Labor Code 132(a) strictly bars any discrimination against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim. An employer cannot take action against an employee because that employee filed for workers’ compensation benefits after being hurt on the job.
- Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA): The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits disability discrimination against disabled workers. California employers covered by the statute have a duty to make a good-faith effort to provide reasonable accommodation to a disabled worker.
The Case: Kaur v. Foster Poultry Farms LLC,
The case in question here is Kaur v. Foster Poultry Farms LLC. It centers around an employee who was injured while working at a chicken processing facility in Merced County, California. She sustained a severe wrist injury in a slip and fall accident. She required surgery. When she eventually returned to work, she requested a light duty assignment. A supervisor told her that she did not qualify for light duty work and would have to quit if she could not perform the job. Eventually, after a corporate restructuring, the employee filed a Labor Code 132(a) claim and an FEHA claim.
Injured Worker May Still Pursue FEHA Claim for Failure to Accommodate
A judge in California determined that the worker was not discriminated against for filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Her Labor Code 132(a) claim was denied. The employer moved to dismiss the remaining of her claim—the disability discrimination claim under FEHA—on these grounds.
On appeal, the WCAB ruled that the employee’s FEHA claim could continue. The takeaway is that a Labor Code 132(a) claim does not examine the same underlying issues as a FEHA disability discrimination. As such, these are separate legal matters that must be evaluated on their own merits.
Get Help From a Workers’ Compensation Defense Lawyer in Central California
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorneys are diligent, experienced advocates for insurers, claims administrators, and employers. If you have any questions about defending a workers’ compensation claim, our legal team is available to help. Contact us by phone or connect with us online for a confidential consultation. We provide workers’ compensation defense representation throughout Central California.