• Under Disability Laws, Process is as Important as Outcome
  • February 17, 2014 | Author: Paul F. Keneally
  • Law Firm: Underberg & Kessler LLP - Rochester Office
  • Under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and it's counterpart under the New York State Human Rights Law (HRL), employers are obligated to engage in an interactive process with employees who request a reasonable accommodation in order to perform their jobs because of a disability. Because the HRL applies to employers who have four or more employees, this interactive process requirement applies to most New York employers.

    Employees are presumptively determined to have "requested" a reasonable accommodation, such that nearly any indication from an employee or his/her doctor that a workplace adjustment might assist him/her to do the job, is sufficient to trigger the interactive process requirement. Similarly, "disability" is defined broadly under the ADA and the HRL. In the interactive process, the employer must discuss with the employee, preferably in writing, what accommodation(s) might enable the employee to do the job. Then the employer must determine if any such accommodation(s) is reasonable given all of the circumstances, including the employer's size and financial resources.

    Certainly, compliance with the ADA and HRL can be tricky, and working through the issues with employment counsel is crucial.