A "perceived disability" means that a disability does not exist. For example, when hiring managers interview candidates and rule out those who are obese it's because they suspect that they're at risk for problems such as diabetes or back trouble. They may not be at risk at all. Another common one is speech impairment. For example, if a job candidate stutters or she repeats herself when she's nervous and it shows during her interview than hiring managers may assume that she has a learning disability and that she'll become a burden.
I've been discriminated against because of a perceived disability. It was 1997 and had just been laid off from TCI (the cable company) where I ran accounts payable for Contra Costa County and I needed to find a job fast because I didn't have any money saved. (TCI, a Fortune 500 company, paid me $8.75 an hour to run high volume A/P). I applied for several different A/P jobs and one was at the corporate office of a fitness chain. On the day of my interview I arrived fifteen minutes early and the receptionist asked me to sit in the lobby. As I waited, a different office worker visited the front desk and the two began to chat. She asked, "Is she here for the A/P position?" The other responded, "Yes." She replied, "She's not going to get it because she's chubby." She was right, I didn't get it.
My roommate worked in the accounting department at a car dealership called Future Ford Lincoln of Concord and when they had an opening for an A/P clerk he urged me to apply for it, which I did. I interviewed with the controller and then with the general manager, and it went fine. However, that evening after John came home from work he told me that while I was being interviewed, the female accounting clerks who had seen me walk by made several really malicious comments, such as "Annie on steroids." (Annie was a hit movie about a little redheaded orphan. Here's a YouTube clip.). The managers detected the sadist atmosphere in their office and they didn't hire me.
To my grave misfortune I got hired by a true sadist named Suzanne Powley at a law firm in downtown San Francisco called Gold Bennett and Cera. She fired at least one employee every month. To compound the situation, she hired an accounting manager who had a long established history of maintaining high employee turnover. The recruiters at the temp agencies remembered her because her accounting clerks usually lasted for only two months. Her name is Kim Edwards. She and Suzanne maintained a very tense atmosphere at the office and I began to stutter at work, which I hadn't done since the fourth grade and even then it was only for a month or two. I overheard Kim complain about it to Suzanne who responded that I had a learning disability, which was inaccurate and mean spirited.
"Perceived disability" and "hate" have different meanings but they sit right next to each other on the evil scale.
Does the DFEH poster in the employee break room have to list every conceivable non generic person in order to prevent discrimination in the workplace? If an employee has to read it in order to know the difference between right and wrong than why is he or she working there? Is her degree in accounting so important to the company that the manager is willing to ignore her mean streak? Was my extra thirty pounds or my stuttering such a distraction to these people that they forgot that I ran high volume accounts payable at a Fortune 500 company?