The Ninth Circuit ruled in Fleming v. Yuma Regional Medical Center, 07-16427, that the federal Rehabilitation Act applies to discrimination claims brought by an independent contractor.

Plaintiff, an anesthesiologist suffering from Sickle Cell anemia, was denied a contract by Yuma Regional Medical Center due to the fact that they could not accommodate his operating room and call schedules. The doctor sued for discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act and the hospital argued that the doctor had no standing to sue for discrimination because he was an independent contractor. The court reasoned that the scope of the Rehabilitation Act is broader than the ADA, and that there is no language in the Act that limits its scope to employees.

In light of this decision, California employers should take note that an independent contractor may sue their hiring companies for discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act even if they are not actual employees.