COVID-19 

 

  • Action by tenant alleging that landlord failed to accommodate his disability or engage in the interactive process after tenant was injured and temporarily confined to a wheelchair. Tenant alleged that landlord discriminated against him because of his disability under the FEHA, Disabled Persons Act, Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the Los Angeles Civil and Human Rights Law. Landlord alleged that all building elements of its 2018-constructed apartment met the ADA, the California Building Code, and that the building had been inspected and permitted by the city. When the wheelchair lift required maintenance, management immediately called the manufacturer and repair persons. Any delay in finally obtaining service was not under landlord’s control, because of business closures under the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting supply chain’s backlog on parts, and the Christmas holiday. A temporary halt in the operation of an interior elevator was similarly caused by an area-wide power outage. Moreover, landlord alleged that tenant had not paid rent for 18 months under the California COVID-19 Rent Relief program. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by service mechanic alleging that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, his former employer, an elevator company, violated the FEHA by discriminating and retaliating against him for his underlying medical condition of asthma and diabetes; failed to prevent discrimination, engage in the interactive process or reasonably accommodate him; and wrongfully terminated him. Employer alleged that mechanic took advantage of the pandemic by electing to take a voluntary furlough under a collective bargaining agreement, and by collecting disability payment benefits. Employer alleged mechanic did not request for protected leave, failed to provide a doctor’s note for any work restrictions, and was never terminated. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by warehouse worker alleging that his former employer, a wholesaler, violated the FEHA by discriminating and retaliating against him for his disability after he was severely injured in an auto accident, failed to engage in the interactive process, failed to reasonably accommodate him, and wrongfully terminated him during his disability leave. Employer alleged that it had reasonably accommodated employee after his injury, that employee could not perform the essential functions of his job with or without an accommodation, and that employee was laid off during COVID-19’s stay-at-home order. Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Action by insulator alleging that his former employer, an industrial refrigeration company, discriminated and retaliated against him for his disability and age in violation of the FEHA, did not engage in the interactive process and reasonable accommodation, failed to prevent discrimination, failed to grant him CFRA leave, breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and wrongfully termination him. Company alleged that insulator had worked nine months for employer, and was not eligible for CFRA leave. The day insulator was seriously injured in a non-work-related car accident was the same day the Governor issued a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While employer granted insulator’s reasonable accommodation request for six-weeks’ unpaid leave, employee instead elected to be laid-off (along with other employees) for COVID-19, so that he could benefit from both regular unemployment and supplemental COVID-19 unemployment benefits under the CARES Act. While employee received COBRA health insurance coverage information, he failed to apply for COBRA and the policy offer lapsed. Meanwhile, employee’s hospital bills mounted and he was forced to file for bankruptcy to discharge his debts. Resolved in mediation.

  • Pre-arbitration action by in-house attorney alleging that her former employer, a communications start-up, engaged in FEHA disability discrimination, harassment and retaliation, failed to engage in the interactive process and reasonable accommodation, committed promissory estoppel, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and unfair business practices.  Employer alleged that the company had liberally accommodated attorney with more than three months of leave for her anxiety, childcare and home-schooling needs, as well as surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, attorney was unable to perform the essential functions of her job with or without an accommodation, and an indefinite leave would have caused undue hardship to the company.  Resolved by mediator’s proposal.

 

  • Pre-litigation action by baker alleging that her former employer, a specialty bakery and its managing agent, engaged in perceived disability and medical condition (diabetes) discrimination and harassment, and engaged in retaliation when baker complained.  During the pandemic, when a co-worker’s boyfriend was first exposed to COVID-19, both co-worker and baker were quarantined and underwent COVID-19 testing.  When the results were negative, baker and co-worker returned to work.  Later, baker had a skin rash, and again quarantined, and underwent another COVID-19 test as well as an antibody test.  After receiving negative results on these tests, baker asked to return to work without requesting for any accommodation.  Rather than returning baker to work, employer instead placed her on continuous unpaid leave and replaced her position with a new employee without any apparent disability or medical condition.  Employer alleged baker’s underlying diabetic condition made her a direct threat to herself in the event she were to be exposed to COVID-19 in its store.  Employer also alleged it could not afford to upgrade its air conditioning system, something baker had not requested.  Resolved by mediator’s proposal.