Publications

California Court Imposes Duty to Accommodate Non-Disabled Employees Associated With Disabled Persons

4/13/2016 Articles

On April 4, 2016, a California Court of Appeal set new precedent in Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, opining that the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) may require employers to reasonably accommodate non-disabled employees who are associated with a person with a disability.

Plaintiff Castro-Ramirez alleged that he needed to be at home each night to administer his son’s daily dialysis, as he was the only person who could do so. For several years, plaintiff’s supervisors at Defendant Dependable Highway Express, Inc. (DHE) scheduled him to allow for that home presence. The schedule accommodation changed when a new supervisor took over and ultimately terminated plaintiff for refusing to work a shift that did not permit him to be home in time for his son’s dialysis.

Plaintiff alleged causes of action for disability discrimination and related claims under the FEHA. Notably, plaintiff had abandoned his failure to accommodate cause of action, so that claim was not before the court. The trial court granted DHE’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that the FEHA did not require DHE to accommodate care for the son’s condition.

In reversing that summary judgment, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, noted that associational disability claims are “a seldom-litigated cause of action,” and “[n]o published California case has determined whether employers have a duty under FEHA to provide reasonable accommodations to an applicant or employee who is associated with a disabled person.” However, the court held that the “very definition of a ‘physical disability’” under FEHA creates a duty to accommodate employees associated with persons with disabilities. Thus, “[a]n association with a physically disabled person is itself a disability under FEHA.” The court acknowledged its departure from federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which “requires accommodations only for applicants or employees who themselves have disabilities,” finding that the ADA language is materially different than the FEHA.

This opinion counsels employers to carefully consider accommodation requests based upon disabilities experienced by employees’ family or household members. When presented with such requests, the employer should engage in an interactive process with the employee, consider accommodation alternatives, and consult knowledgeable counsel regarding the obligations imposed by the FEHA. A failure to engage in the interactive process or provide accommodations in violation of the FEHA may subject the employer to disability and failure to accommodate claims, including possible economic and emotional damages as well as attorneys’ fees.

Luis Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express, Case Nos. B261165 and B262524 (April 4, 2016).

Firm Highlights

Publication

Nonprofit Book Review: ABA Guidebook for Directors of Nonprofit Corporations

Welcome to  EO Radio Show - Your Nonprofit Legal Resource . In today’s episode, Cynthia Rowland’s guest is Bill Boyd, one of the editors, along with Lisa Rundquist, of the newly published fourth edition of...

Read More
News

City of San Mateo Sued by Nonprofit Over New Housing Plan

Tom Mayhew spoke to CBS News about the lawsuit filed by Housing Action Coalition (HAC) and Farella against the City of San Mateo. The lawsuit challenges the city's recently adopted Housing Element in order to...

Read More
News

Chambers USA 2024 Recognizes Farella Braun + Martel Lawyers, Practices

Farella Braun + Martel is pleased to announce that Chambers USA has recognized 16 lawyers and six practice areas in the legal directory’s 2024 edition. Individual California and Western U.S. Rankings: Sarah Bell &ndash...

Read More
Publication

Nonprofit Quick Tip: State Filings in Oklahoma and Texas

Welcome to  EO Radio Show - Your Nonprofit Legal Resource . This is the 12th in a series of “Quick Tip” episodes focusing on the details of state registration of nonprofit corporations. In previous episodes, we...

Read More
Publication

7 Ways Companies and Content Creators Can Navigate Copyright Law for a Successful Partnership

In recent years, the advent of the social media “influencer” has revolutionized advertising. Companies often partner with influencers to market their products, hoping to tap into the influencer’s devoted audience. Likewise, influencers create certain content...

Read More
News

Farella Braun + Martel Named Among 2024 Bay Area Best Places to Work

Read More
News

Ex-DraftKings Exec Seeks Fast Trial To Test Noncompete Law

Holly Sutton, chair of Farella's Employment Law Group, provided expert commentary to Law360 for the article "Ex-DraftKings Exec Seeks Fast Trial To Test Noncompete Law." Read the article here (subscription required).

Read More
News

Farella Advises TILT Holdings Inc. on $10.5M Loan Transaction

Northern California legal powerhouse Farella Braun + Martel advised TILT Holdings Inc. , a global provider of cannabis business solutions, and its Pennsylvania subsidiary, grower and processor Standard Farms, on a $10.5 million loan transaction...

Read More
Publication

How to Navigate California Wage Statement Penalties After Naranjo v. Spectrum

On May 6, 2024, the California Supreme Court, in Naranjo v. Spectrum Security Services Inc. , clarified that an employer is not liable for statutory penalties for inaccurate wage statements when it had a...

Read More
Publication

Advice for Nonprofit Investment Committees From an Investment Advisor

Welcome to  EO Radio Show - Your Nonprofit Legal Resource . In episode 82, we revisit the duties of directors in managing investment assets. Joining Cynthia Rowland today is Jennifer Nelson, Senior Wealth Manager...

Read More