Reasonable Accommodations For Disabilities

In both New Jersey and New York, employers are legally required to provide a reasonable accommodation to their employees with a disability. A reasonable accommodation is a way to allow an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her job.

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

Depending on the circumstances, a reasonable accommodation for a disability can include modifications to the way a task is performed, using special equipment or technology or allowing time off from work. For example, depending on the specific facts the following can be a reasonable accommodation for a disability:

  • Allowing you to work from home
  • Permitting you to work a modified or part-time schedule
  • Allowing you to take an unpaid medical leave
  • Removing marginal (non-essential) job responsibilities
  • Changing when or how you perform certain tasks
  • Reassigning you to another open job
  • Providing you special equipment or devices
  • Changing workplace policies

Not All Accommodations Are Reasonable

While the law requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation, it does not require them to provide an accommodation if it is unreasonable. Generally, an accommodation is reasonable as long as its costs do not outweigh its benefits. In addition, your employer is not required to provide an accommodation that would eliminate or waive an essential function of your job.

In determining whether an accommodation is reasonable, the context matters. Since affordability is a factor, larger and more profitable companies are likely to be required to provide more costly accommodations to their employees. Likewise, the proportionality between the cost of the accommodation and the overall cost of the employee to the company including salary and benefits can be relevant. While it probably is unreasonable to require a company to provide an accommodation that costs $20,000 per year to an employee making minimum wage, it might be reasonable to provide the same accommodation to an employee making $250,000 per year.

In addition, the duration of the accommodation can be important. While certain accommodations can be reasonable even if they are going to be necessary for as long as the employee remains at the job, other accommodations are reasonable only for a relatively short and predictable period.

An Interactive Process to Identify a Reasonable Accommodation

If you request an accommodation, your employer must engage in an interactive process with you to discuss how it can accommodate you. During this process, the employer should try to learn your limitations and work with you to determine how it can accommodate you.

While the employer is not necessarily required to provide you with the accommodation you requested, it must provide one that will allow you to perform the essential function of your job if one exists. Failing to provide a reasonable accommodation is a form of disability discrimination and is legally actionable.

Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy

Both New Jersey and New York City law require employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions. Although New York State and federal law do not go quite so far, they still require employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy-related disabilities. 

For more information, you may want to read one of the following articles:

Reasonable Accommodations for Religious Beliefs

As with the case of disabilities, employees are entitled to an accommodation for their religious beliefs. More information is available on our reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs page.

Contact an Experienced Employment Law Attorney

If you have been denied an accommodation for your disability at your job in either New Jersey or New York, we can help. We have helped employees obtain accommodations so they can remain employed. Likewise, we have represented clients who were fired or forced to resign because their employer refused to comply with its legal obligation to provide one. Please feel free to contact us online or call us at (973) 744-4000 to schedule a meeting with one of our employment lawyers.