I have an attorney but just wondering, I also filed an EEOC complaint regarding Discrimination of my disibilty its seems convenient this has occured, I will mention this to my attorney when I get a hold of him or would i need to look for another attorney to handle that portion. Just looking for some input
If your attorney handles civil litigation of disability discrimination cases, then he is your first option to obtain advice from. If not, he may have worked, before, with such attorneys. When you have parallel workers comp and civil cases, it helps that the attorneys work together during discovery and assessment of damages. If left to your own devices, you can look for experienced employment law attorneys at www.cela.org.
I agree with Michael. The first place you should turn in this situation is your workers compensation attorney. Ask him or her if you need another attorney for the disability discrimination suit. He or she probably frequently comes across the situation where his client has a lawsuit for discrimination alongside a workplace injury. Your attorney will know if you need another lawyer.
Secondly, if you have to hire another lawyer, be sure to inquire about the Fair Employment & Housing Act, which is similar to the EEOC. In California, attorneys primarily like to file discrimination lawsuits under FEHA because it has more favorable remedies than federal law. If you want to know more about disability discrimination, see my website's page on disability discrimination.
Since you are a State employee, you have a vested property right in your job that potentially offers more protection than private sector employees.
I would suggest that when you talk to any disability rights attorney, you make sure that the attorney has sufficient experience to handle the unique rules of disability rights for government employees. For example, if it is determined that you are unable to work, the State has a duty to submit your application for retirement benefits, and sometimes the State needs a legal "nudge" to follow their duties.
David A. Mallen
Whenever an employee who has experienced a work-related injury finds him/herself without a job shortly thereafter, a prima facie case of discrimination exists, absent another legitimate explanation. Labor Code section 132 a makes it unlawful to discriminate against an employee due to a work related injury. These claims are, in my experienced, routinely filed as part of the underlying workers' compensation claim, whenever an injured worker is separated from work, regardless of the reason given by the employer. Additionally, many employers are unaware that firing an injured worker may also invite a much more serious legal claim, i.e., one for discrimination based on physical disability. The latter type of claim is available because a workers' comp injury often also qualifies the injured employee as "disabiled" under California law, if the injury affects a "life activity" (including work) and is permanent. For example, serious back injuries often qualify. If so, the act of terminating an injured worker can simultaneously constitute an act of discrimination based on the comp claim, as well as an act of disability discrimination. The latter, however, is tried in state court before a jury, in the absence of an enforceable arbitration policy. Thus, the employee may claim far greater damages, including those for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys' fees, which often dwarf those available before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. Also, employees fare far better before juries, because juries are typically comprised entirely, or mostly, of employees, not business owners or supervisors, and share a much stronger affinity for the plaintiff-employee. This is one powerful reason that employers are well-advised to consider mandatory arbitration policies.
You've received some excellent information already. I write to emphasize that your workers' compensation claim MUST be coordinated with any civil claim (discrimination, etc.) because the way in which the workers' compensation claim is settled may prevent you from pursuing a civil claim. I urge you not to automatically assume that your workers' compensation attorney knows enough about the civil law to guide you, much less represent you. Workers' compensation is a specialized area of law and most workers' compensation attorneys do not also handle disability or failure to accommodate claims.
To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.
I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
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