Does disability include off-the-clock injuries? For the purposes of anti-discrimination laws, the answer is “yes.”

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) provide protections to qualified employees who suffer from a disability, regardless of what caused the employee to become disabled.

Americans with Disabilities Act

According to the ADA, “the term “disability” means, with respect to an individual

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
  • A record of such an impairment; or
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment (as described in paragraph (3)).

42 U.S.C.§ 12102(1)

Fair Employment and Housing Act

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 specifically provides that “disability” … shall be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals … to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter.” 42 U.S.C.§ 12102(4)(A).

Pursuant to the FEHA, “physical disability” includes, but is not limited to any physiological disease, disorder, condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss that does both of the following:

  • Affects one or more of the following body systems: neurological, immunological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.
  • Limits a major life activity.

Cal. Gov. Code, § 12926(m)

Being on the Clock is Irrelevant to Both Definitions

Both the ADA and the FEHA define the term “disability” without regard for what caused the disability or where the disability happened (i.e. whether it was on the job or not). Therefore, regardless of how or when an employee became disabled, the anti-discrimination provisions of these two statutory frameworks provide protections to disabled employees.

There are, of course, other laws which do consider the issue of whether the injury occurred on the job, or during the course and scope of employment, such as in the context of workers’ compensation benefits. However, the anti-discrimination provisions of the ADA and FEHA apply, regardless.

Contact Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C.

Employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Glendale can contact Akopyan Law Firm A.P.C. for more information. We offer a complimentary case evaluation and contingency fee services. Please view our case results and testimonials. To know what can be considered a disability under FEHA. Click here.