Reasonable Accommodation for Disabled Employees
Reasonable Accommodation of Disabilities: Know Your Rights Under New Jersey Employment Law
The Americans with Disabilities Act 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 the 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 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 even allowing the employee to work from home.
Leaves of Absence as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination:
Recently, we have handled a number of cases for New Jersey employees involving the intersection of their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (see our discussion of the FMLA on this web site), employers must give employees up to 12 weeks of leave to recover from a “serious health condition.” But some employers have failed to realize that, just because the 12 weeks of protected FMLA leave run out, an employee can request an extension of his medical leave beyond the 12 weeks, asserting a right to an extension of the leave as a reasonable accommodation under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. If the employer unreasonably denies that extension, it opens itself 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’s best to have a doctor’s note stating that you will be able to return on a date certain, within no more than the next few months.
Over their combined 45 years of practice, attorneys Richard Schall and Patricia Barasch have handled many reasonable accommodation cases, including 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, 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.
If you believe you have been denied reasonable accommodation, please contact our firm by clicking on the link below, “Help Us Understand Your Case,” and completing the on-line Questionnaire. Or call us at (856) 914-9200.
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