Q: Can I sue my employer for firing me based on my panic disorder? I was fired in 2002 and am on permanent disability
In 2002 I went to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. I was informed that I was having a panic attack due to a panic disorder. My employer fired me claiming I was too much of a liability. I have been on permanent disability since then. Can I sue them for firing me for my disability?
A: This is an excellent question. The question is whether your employer is covered by the laws, does he employ more than 5 people? Your panic disorder probably qualifies you for anti discrimination protection and entitles you to addition benefits as a Qualified Physically Disabled Person. Certainly you come under that definition when an employer considers you as Physically Disabled. Under the FEHA (Gvt. Code 12940 et seq.) you are entitled to be advised of and participate in an "interactive process" to see if your disability disqualifies you from performing "the essential functions of your job" or whether you are entitled to a "reasonable accommodation" that is not an "undue hardship" to the employer. First, it appears that your employer denied you the interactive process, this is itself a violation of your rights, whether you qualify to keep working or not. You should definitely contact an Employee's Rights Attorney in your local area to discuss what your options are. From first blush, it sounds like you may have a good case. Keep track of your damages, any lost earnings, any medical expenses for counseling for emotional distress, etc.
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