California employment lawyers and employers alike have noticed an increase in the number of employment lawsuits related to disability and leaves of absence. While this spike has been visible for the past few years, these cases have multiplied substantially since the recession.
However, the recession is unlikely the sole reason for the spike in disability claims and cases related to leaves of absence. It is very likely that employees are becoming more aware of their rights under California employment law, and now don't hesitate to bring forward a claim when they recognize disability discrimination. Besides, employers too are now more alert to the fact that they may be exposed to potential liability. In 2006, a jury handed a $19 million verdict in the Roby v. McKesson Corporation case for an employee who suffered from panic attacks.
Although that verdict was later reduced to $4 million, the damage to employers was done. It became clear that failing to modify policies, and taking the wrong approach to addressing employee concerns about leaves and disability, could have serious financial consequences. Since then, California employment lawyers have also noticed employees who feel more confident about their rights. An employee on maternity leave could be shocked to find out that she has been laid off while on a medical leave of absence. But, this happens all the time, and while the consequences for employers weren't as devastating earlier, the situation has changed dramatically now.
There's also been a change in the kind of medical conditions that are eligible for claims. California employment lawyers, for instance, now file claims for employees with medical leaves of absence for stress and anxiety. That's a change from earlier, when most claims were filed for a serious physical problem, like cancer.