Many individuals living with a disability are unaware of their right to request an accommodation at their workplace under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) or state laws including the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”). Under these laws, employees with disabilities can request assistance or changes to allow them to meet the requirements of their job. Understanding the right to make reasonable accommodations is essential for any individual with a disability seeking employment.
Types of Reasonable Accommodations
When an employee requests assistance or a modification in the workplace to enable them to perform their job, they are requesting a “reasonable accommodation.” Accommodations can relate to changes to equipment, work schedules, or work locations.
Some common accommodations include:
- Modifying the height of desks or chairs
- Installing special equipment such as computer screen magnifiers, antiglare screens, ergonomically designed tools, or adaptive software
- Adjusting work schedules to accommodate for doctor visits
- Transfers to other locations for ease of medical care
- Modifying training materials
- Allowing additional unpaid leave for medical treatments
Employers can deny any accommodation that would result in an undue hardship for the company. Changes that present significant difficulty or financial burden on the employer can constitute an undue hardship. Proving undue hardship can be difficult for employers who may not rely solely on cost as a factor.
Qualifying for Accommodations
Under the ADA, only qualified employees are entitled to reasonable accommodation protections. Any physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more major life activities satisfies the law’s definition of “disability.” Employees with disabilities who have the necessary degree, skills or experience allowing them to perform the essential functions of the position, with or without an accommodation, fit the definition of “qualified” employee. Qualified employees must make the accommodation request to their supervisor or their employer’s Human Resources Department. Under the ADA, both verbal and written requests must be considered by an employer.
Obligations of New Jersey Employers
Pursuant to the NJLAD, employers located in New Jersey must engage in an interactive process with their employees to determine if the employee with a disability can be reasonably accommodated. To successfully bring a claim for an employer’s failure to reasonably accommodate under this law, a plaintiff must prove: 1) the employer knew about the employee’s disability, 2) the employee made a reasonable request, 3) the employer failed to make a good faith effort to provide the request accommodation, and 4) but for the employer’s lack of good faith, the accommodation could have been made.
An employer’s failure to provide reasonable accommodations is a form of employment discrimination. Employers who ignore ADA or NJLAD requirements can be held legally liable for disability discrimination. By filing a disability discrimination lawsuit, individuals may obtain compensation including lost wages and punitive damages. Consulting with an experienced Mount Laurel employment lawyer who understands the steps of filing a claim is the first step in holding employers responsible for their illegal discriminatory actions.
South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Protect the Rights of Workers with Disabilities
If your employer has violated your rights to a reasonable accommodation under the ADA or NJLAD, compensation may be available. The experienced South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC work hard to protect to the rights of workers with disabilities throughout South Jersey, including the areas of Cherry Hill, Camden County, and Burlington County, New Jersey. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Mount Laurel employment lawyer today, call us at 856-235-7075 or contact us online.