Reasonable Accommodations For Disabilities
In both New Jersey and New York, employers are legally required to provide reasonable accommodations to their disabled employees. A reasonable accommodation is a way to allow a disabled employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job.
Examples of Reasonable Accommodations
Depending on the circumstances, reasonable accommodations for disabilities 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 fact the following can be reasonable accommodations 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 reasonable accommodations, 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, bigger and more profitable companies are likely to be required to provide more expensive 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, others 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 company should try to learn your limitations, and work with you to figure out how it can accommodate you.
While the company is not necessarily required to provide you 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
New York City law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Although New Jersey and New York State law do not go quite so far, they both require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related disabilities.
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 quit because their companies refused to comply with their legal obligation to prove one. Please contact us online, or call us at (201) 487-2700 to schedule a meeting with one of our employment lawyers.
- New Rights for Pregnant Employees in NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently signed a new law amending the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) to provide additional protections for women who ....
- Can an Indefinite Leave of Absence be a Reasonable Accommodation for a Disability? Earlier this month, New York's highest court ruled that although an employee is not entitled to take an indefinite leave of absence as a reasonable ....
- Arriving on Time is Not an Essential Function of Every Job In both New York and New Jersey, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees to allow them to remain employed. A ....