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Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express (2016)

April 13, 2017

Ryan J. Jones, Esq.

A recent case addressed the interplay between discrimination based on an employee’s association with another who has a disability and whether the employer must provide the employee with a reasonable accommodation.  Castro-Ramirez v. Dependable Highway Express (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 1028, review denied (Nov. 30, 2016).  Castro-Ramirez sued Dependable High Express (“DHE”) for disability discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination, and retaliation under FEHA, as well as wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

Plaintiff alleged that, when DHE hired him to work as a truck driver in 2010, he told DHE he had a disabled son who required dialysis on a daily basis and plaintiff was responsible for administering the dialysis.  He requested work schedule accommodations that his supervisor initially granted, permitting him to attend to his son in the evening.  In 2013, a new supervisor changed his work schedule.  Plaintiff complained to the new supervisor about the change in schedule.  On April 23, 2013, the supervisor gave plaintiff the 12:00 p.m. shift.  Plaintiff objected and explained that the shift would not allow him to be home early enough in the evening to tend to his disabled son.  The supervisor spoke to a manager and then terminated plaintiff’s employment.  The supervisor told plaintiff he “had quit by choosing not to take the assigned shift.”

DHE moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted DHE’s motion.  In April 2016, the Court of Appeal initially held that “no published California case has determined whether employers have a duty under FEHA to provide reasonable accommodation to an applicant or employee who is associated with a disabled person.  We hold that FEHA creates such a duty according to the plain language of the Act.” Previously published at: 246 Cal.App.4th 180.  On rehearing, the court significantly backed away from this new statement of the law.  In the second opinion, the court stated that they were not deciding whether FEHA imposes a separate duty to reasonably accommodate employees associated with a disabled person.  Nevertheless, the court still found there was evidence that Castro-Ramirez’s association with his disabled son was a substantial motivating factor for terminating him, and DHE’s stated reason for terminating him was pretext.

 

By: Ryan J. Jones, Esq.

Cochran, Davis & Associates, P.C.

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