Anxiety and Stress Caused by Supervisor is Not a Disability Under FEHA

Plaintiff was an employee who did not get along with her supervisor. Things were so bad that plaintiff’s physician took plaintiff off work and concluded plaintiff suffered from adjustment disorder with anxiety. Plaintiff took a lot of time off work, never really went back to work and was then terminated. Plaintiff sued her employer for disability discrimination under FEHA and the related causes of action, but the trial court granted employer’s motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff appealed and the court concluded that an employee’s inability to work under a particular supervisor because of anxiety and stress related to the supervisor’s standard oversight of the employee’s job performance does not constitute a mental disability under FEHA.

That conclusion killed plaintiff’s other causes of action since they were rooted in the determination of whether or not plaintiff suffered from a mental disability.

One final note: employer obtained a cost award against plaintiff, and the court remanded this case back to the trial court for reconsideration of the cost award in light of Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District which was decided just before oral argument in this case.

Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation, 237 Cal. App. 4th 78 (2015).

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