How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Tina Your Own Question
Tina, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  JD, 17 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
Type Your California Employment Law Question Here...
Tina is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I was a lead paralegal on a nationally high-profile case

Customer Question

I was a lead paralegal on a nationally high-profile case when I had to seek help for addiction to alcohol. Since my return the attorneys who I supported 1) refuse to work with me, 2) didn't invite me to the case-end celebratory party, and 3) none of them have contacted me or replied to an e-mail that I have sent. I feel they are discriminating against me for a medical problem by marginalizing me to the sidelines. What can I do?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome,

Did your work suffer as a result of the addiction?

Did you take FMLA leave while you were out of work?

How long were you on leave?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Do you have an answer?
Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
I'm sorry, but I was waiting for you to answer my questions first. Perhaps you did not receive them.

Here are the questions I posed to you, so I have a better picture of your situation:

Did your work suffer as a result of the addiction?

Did you take FMLA leave while you were out of work?

How long were you on leave?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Huh? I responded with them. Here they are again.
1. No one knew of my problem. I told the paralegal and HR managers when I returned from the recovery house. My treatment by the firm thereafter suffered.
2. Yes
3. Five weeks.
Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
My apologies. I don't know what may have happened to your initial response, but I didn't receive it.

This appears to involve disability discrimination, not discrimination for taking FMLA leave. Both are illegal as you may know. While your addiction does not protect you from disciplinary or punitive actions by the employer, your treatment does give rise to protection from such conduct by the employer typically.

Because the adverse actions began after you informed the employer of your treatment, that would normally give rise to a claim for discrimination under the ADA, for which you should file a complaint with HR unless filing the complaint would be futile.

Your next step, if the issue is not promptly resolved, is to file a formal complaint with the state fair employment and housing commission in an effort to resolve the matter.

Here is a link that explains the law further (use keyword "alcohol"):

It is best to also retain a local employment law attorney to represent you through this process.

I hope you found my answer helpful, even if the law is not in your favor; please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button above for my answer. This is necessary for me to be paid for my work and so that I can get credit for assisting you. Your question will not close, and you will still have the opportunity to follow-up if needed. Leaving a bonus and positive feedback is not required, but doing so is certainly appreciated!

If you have additional questions, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me. Please consider that I am answering the question or question that is posed in your posting based upon my reading of your post and sometimes misunderstandings can occur. If I did not answer the question you thought you were asking, please respond with the specific question you wanted answered.

Also remember, sometimes the law does not support what we want it to support, but that is not the fault of the person answering the question, so please be courteous. Thank you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I may change employment because the situation has grown that bad with my current employer. Failing to get help through the two ways you suggested because it assumes I will stay put, can I file a complaint in superior court seeking punitive damages from a defendant who should have known better?
Expert:  Tina replied 5 years ago.
No. You must follow this procedure or forfeit your right to pursue a claim at all unfortunately.

If you quit, you limit your damages, although punitives may be available even if you terminate the employment relationship.

It is best to retain a local attorney though especially since you are dealing with legal professionals.

All the best to you.

Please remember to press the ACCEPT button even if you have a subscription plan so I will be credited for my time by If you do not press ACCEPT, the website retains your payment and I receive nothing. A Bonus is always appreciated. Thanks again.