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What are My Employer’s Obligations to Provide an Accommodation of My Workplace Disability in New Jersey?

worker with wheelchairIf you have a disability, you obviously face certain unique challenges in your life. Being allowed a fair chance to do a job for which you are qualified should not be one of them. The law says that employers may not discriminate against workers with disabilities, and part of that requirement means the employer must, in most situations, provide an employee with the reasonable accommodations she needs in order to do her job, as long as those accommodations do not place an undue burden on the employer’s business (and most do not). If you’ve been harmed at work because your employer rejected the reasonable accommodation that you requested, you may have a case and may have a right to compensation for disability discrimination. Talk to an experienced New Jersey disability discrimination attorney to learn more about what your next steps should be.

Both federal law and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination are very clear about certain things. One of these is that, if you have a disability, the employer is required to give you a reasonable accommodation of your disability, unless it can prove to a court that the accommodation is unduly burdensome. In other words, it is mandatory, and the employer generally cannot deny you an accommodation unless it meets the high hurdle of proving an undue burden. The employer is not obligated to give you exactly the accommodation that you sought; instead, your employer must engage in a good-faith “interactive process” to arrive at an appropriate accommodation. (If the employer fails to engage in the interactive process, or fails to do so in good faith, that in itself can be a basis for a disability discrimination case.)

Many accommodations sought by employers are genuinely modest and reasonable, and clearly fall short of constituting an undue burden on an employer. An employee with inflammatory bowel disease might ask her employer for an accommodation in the form of extra bathroom breaks or a work station close to the bathroom. An employee who requires the use of a wheelchair might ask for an adjusted desk in his work space to better reach the desktop. An employee with depression might need an extended period of leave to seek treatment.

If your employer denies you the accommodation you requested, and you find yourself in the position of using the legal system, there are various things you’ll need to prove in order to achieve success in your case. You have to show that you had a disability, that you had the qualifications to perform the duties of the position, with or without an accommodation, and that you suffered an adverse employment action because of your disability.

One of the key areas in which the case may be contested is the issue of being able to meet the essential requirements of the job. Your employer may attempt to argue that your disability or the accommodation you’ve requested are things that have made you unqualified for your job. As an example, a federal court outside New Jersey ruled that an employer was allowed to deny an employee a telecommuting option as a disability accommodation because the employer demonstrated that regular in-person attendance was an essential aspect of the disabled employee’s job. If the employer had not been able to show that in-person presence was vital to the performance of that job’s essential functions, the employer might have succeeded in her disability discrimination case.

As a person with disabilities, chances are that all you want is a fair opportunity to do the job you signed up to do. If your employer, through the improper denial of a reasonable accommodation of your disability, denies you that, you may be entitled to protect your rights through litigation. The diligent New Jersey disability discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates have been working hard on behalf of our clients with disabilities to ensure that they get the fair shot in the workplace that they deserve. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation and to find out how we can help you.

More blog posts:

What Does Illegal Disability Discrimination in the Workplace Look Like According to New Jersey Law?, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, May 31, 2018

Bipolar Disorder, Bipolar Treatment Side Effects, and Disability Discrimination Law in New Jersey, New Jersey Employment Lawyer Blog, Feb. 2, 2018

Photo Credit: CDC / Amanda Mills, [CC0 License], via PublicDomainFiles.com

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