Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) January 18, 2017 - On November 15, the California Court of Appeals ruled that a former Univision Radio DJ can proceed with filing a disability and leave claim. The ruling calls into question the definition of disability and when an employer must be on notice to offer employees leave.
Sofia Soria, a former Univision Radio DJ, filed a discrimination and wrongful termination suit against Univision in 2013 when she was allegedly fired after she notified her employer of needing surgery for a potentially cancerous stomach tumor. According to the suit, Soria allegedly gave notice multiple times of her condition and missed some work due to medical appointments.
The suit claims disability discrimination, failure to accommodate disability, failure to engage in the interactive process under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and interference with California Family Rights Act (CFRA) rights.
While the lower court ruled in favor of Univision, the California Court of Appeals disagreed, due to the Court’s inability to resolve several factual disputes key to the case. One such dispute involved the question of Soria’s disability. One argument is that the tumor, being asymptomatic, was not in itself a disability that would interfere with her work. However, her condition caused her to be tardy and miss work due to her need for medical treatment. In this way, her condition did interfere with her work. Therefore, the Court saw that Soria’s condition did potentially render her disabled under California law.
Additionally, the court found that Soria's termination could have been an act of discrimination in that (1) a termination occurred in close proximity to her disclosure of the surgery; (2) her tardiness had been an ongoing problem and not recent; and (3) Soria received positive reviews from her employer.
The final question raised by the suit was whether Univision was given sufficient notice from Soria to enact the CRFA leave requirements. Univision claimed that Soria had not given sufficient information regarding the length of her leave. However, the Court found that Univision arguably had sufficient information concerning her condition to determine the need for a leave, and thus had the responsibility of determining the details about the length of leave itself.
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