Reasonable Accommodation for Disabled Employees in New Jersey.
Know Your Rights. Contact Our Moorestown Reasonable Accommodation Lawyers.
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 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 does 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.
How to Request a Reasonable Accommodation
In general, the employee is responsible for requesting a reasonable accommodation and their employer should respond promptly and not ignore the request.
- To start, you must make your employer aware of your disability or medical need. 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 state your condition and why you need a change in your work. You may also provide your ideas about what accommodations would be best, if you have them.
- In response, your employer may ask you questions to gain more information, or ask for medical documentation, such 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 can work to accommodate your request.
- If your employer does not respond, or if they deny your request, follow up to learn why. You may need to provide clarity, more information, or look at other options for your accommodation.
Once you have successfully received a 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, our Moorestown 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’s best to have a doctor’s note stating that you will be able to return on a certain date, within no more than the next few months.
Over their combined 50 years experience, 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 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.