Reasonable Accommodation For Disabled Employees

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Reasonable Accommodation for Disabled Employees in New Jersey.

Know Your Rights. Contact Our New Jersey Reasonable Accommodation Lawyer.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) not only prohibit employers from discriminating against disabled employees, but they also impose upon employers a critical affirmative duty — the obligation to provide “reasonable accommodation” to disabled employees so as to allow them to remain gainfully employed despite any limitations imposed by their disability.

A “reasonable accommodation” is exactly what it sounds like – any accommodation or assistance an employee may need to allow him or her to continue to successfully perform a job. The only limitation is that the accommodation should not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer.

Reasonable accommodations can be something as simple as providing a chair for the employee to sit on, or they can be something much more complex such as restructuring a job to take away certain duties the disabled employee can no longer perform, allowing the employee to work on a reduced or modified schedule, or allowing the employee to work from home.

How to Request a Reasonable Accommodation

In general, you, as an employee, are responsible for requesting a reasonable accommodation, and your employer is required to address your request promptly.

  • To start, you must make your employer aware of your disability and need for accommodation. Do this in writing, such as an email or a dated letter, and save a copy for yourself.
  • Write your request in plain English and clearly explain your condition and why you need an accommodation that will allow you to continue to effectively work. You may also provide your ideas about what accommodations you think would be helpful.
  • In response, your employer may ask you questions to gain more information or ask for medical documentation, such as a note from your doctor. It is important to note that your employer may ask for “sufficient” medical documentation, but not excessive. If you do not provide the necessary information, your accommodation may be denied. However, your employer should not request documentation that is outside of the scope of the disability or medical limitation you are asking to be accommodated.
  • After your employer has a full picture of your limitations, they are required to engage with you in an “interactive process” to determine whether and how your disability can be accommodated.
  • If your employer fails to engage with you in this interactive process, it is violating your rights under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

Once you have successfully received reasonable accommodation, it is your responsibility to ensure it is working for you. If it is not, or if something changes with your condition, you may repeat the process of asking for a new or updated accommodation.

Leaves of Absence as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the NJLAD

Recently, the New Jersey reasonable accommodation attorneys at Schall & Barasch LLC have handled a number of cases for New Jersey employees involving the intersection of their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Under the FMLA, employers must give employees up to 12 weeks of leave to recover from a “serious health condition.” Some employers have failed to realize that after the 12 weeks of protected FMLA leave run out, an employee can request a medical leave extension beyond the 12 weeks, asserting a right to an extension of the leave as a reasonable accommodation under the NJLAD. If the employer unreasonably denies that extension, they open themselves to liability. These cases are relatively straightforward and are very winnable.

It is important to keep in mind that any request for an extension of a medical leave of absence beyond the 12 weeks provided by the FMLA must be for a reasonable and limited period of time. It is advisable to have a doctor’s note stating that you will be able to return on a certain date.

Attorney Patricia Barasch has handled many reasonable accommodation cases, including successfully litigating the case of Seiden v. Marina Associates, the very first case in the State of New Jersey to address the framework the courts should use to analyze reasonable accommodation cases.

At Schall & Barasch LLC, we enjoy the challenge of tackling the most complex legal issues, taking on the biggest corporations in New Jersey along with their law firms, and standing up for the rights of our clients to be free from disability discrimination in the workplace.

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