The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits disability discrimination in the workplace. Although it does not expressly require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for injured employees, New Jersey courts have consistently held that employers are held to such an obligation under the law. Also, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Department of Law and Public Safety regulations require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need them unless the disability precludes the employee’s performance of the particular employment or the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business.
After receiving notification of an employee’s disability, employers must work in good faith with their employees to come up with reasonable accommodations. Examples of such reasonable accommodations include modification of the facility, devices or equipment, modification of the employee’s work schedule or job responsibilities and permissible medical leaves of absence. An employee may prove that his or her employer did not initiate the interactive process of finding a reasonable accommodation as required by law if: the employer knew about the employee’s disability; the employee requested accommodations; the employer did not put forth a good faith effort to assist with those accommodations; and that, but for the employer’s lack of good faith efforts, the employee could have reasonably been accommodated.
Employers are not required to create a suitable part-time position for disabled employees if no suitable full-time position exists. However, they are required to provide disabled workers with light-duty work when it would not impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. In a case involving a disabled corrections officer who was unable to perform the essential functions of the position, the Supreme Court held that a disabled employee must possess the occupational qualifications of the job for the employee to be entitled to reasonable accommodations.
Temporary Leaves of Absence
A temporary leave of absence generally constitutes a reasonable accommodation under the NJLAD. For employers to require workers to return to work after a specific, even lengthy, period of time, they must show that extending the employee’s leave beyond the designated amount of time would impose an undue hardship on the operation of their business.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFMLA) also entitle employees to time off for the birth or adoption of a child or the serious illness of a parent, spouse or child. The FMLA allows for 12 weeks off within a 12-month period whereas the NJFMLA allows for 12 weeks off within a 24-month period. To qualify for leave under the NJFMLA, employees must have an employer that is covered by the NJFLA (50 or more employees) and they must have been employed for at least 12 months and worked 1,000 base hours in the preceding 12 months for that employer.
Workers who feel they have been unjustly denied reasonable accommodations or experienced discrimination due to a disability are advised to speak to a reputable employment lawyer for help and legal guidance.
Middletown Employment Lawyers at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. Represent Employers and Employees in Reasonable Accommodation CasesIf you are facing issues regarding reasonable accommodation in the workplace, contact a knowledgeable Middletown employment lawyer at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. We are experienced in representing both employers and employees in ADA and NJLAD claims. Our skilled attorneys provide dedicated legal counsel to individuals, corporations and public institutions throughout New Jersey, including Red Bank, Middletown, Cherry Hill and Marlton. To discuss your case, contact us online or call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500 or our Marlton office at 856-985-9800.