California Provides Protection Independent to the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Legislature finds and declares as follows:
(a) The law of this state in the area of disabilities provides protections independent from those in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-336). Although the federal act provides a floor of protection, this state's law has always, even prior to passage of the federal act, afforded additional protections.
(b) The law of this state contains broad definitions of physical disability, mental disability, and medical condition. It is the intent of the Legislature that the definitions of physical disability and mental disability be construed so that applicants and employees are protected from discrimination due to an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment that is disabling, potentially disabling, or perceived as disabling or potentially disabling.
(c) Physical and mental disabilities include, but are not limited to, chronic or episodic conditions such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, epilepsy, seizure disorder, diabetes, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. In addition, the Legislature has determined that the definitions of "physical disability" and "mental disability" under the law of this state require a "limitation" upon a major life activity, but do not require, as does the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, a "substantial limitation." This distinction is intended to result in broader coverage under the law of this state than under that federal act. Under the law of this state, whether a condition limits a major life activity shall be determined without respect to any mitigating measures, unless the mitigating measure itself limits a major life activity, regardless of federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Further, under the law of this state, "working" is a major life activity, regardless of whether the actual or perceived working limitation implicates a particular employment or a class or broad range of employments.
(d) Notwithstanding any interpretation of law in Cassista v. Community Foods (1993) 5 Cal.4th 1050, the Legislature intends (1) for state law to be independent of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (2) to require a "limitation" rather than a "substantial limitation" of a major life activity, and (3) by enacting paragraph (4) of subdivision (j) and paragraph (4) of subdivision (l) of Section 12926, to provide protection when an individual is erroneously or mistakenly believed to have any physical or mental condition that limits a major life activity.
(e) The Legislature affirms the importance of the interactive process between the applicant or employee and the employer in determining a reasonable accommodation, as this requirement has been articulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its interpretive guidance of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
(Amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 261, Sec. 10.)