Phillips & Associates

Disability Discrimination Laws

New York City Attorneys Fighting for the Rights of Disabled Employees

Disability discrimination happens if an employer treats an employee or job applicant adversely due to his or her disability. There are three primary disability discrimination laws that cover employers in New York City: the Americans with Disabilities Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City disability discrimination lawyers understand the nuances of these three different laws, and we can counsel you on which law or laws apply to your situation.

Federal Disability Discrimination Laws

The federal law that prohibits disability discrimination is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA only covers employers that have a minimum of 15 employees. You must both be qualified for a job and have a disability to be protected by the ADA.

How does the ADA define a disability? You can show that you have a disability in three different ways. First, you can show a disability if you have a physical or mental condition that significantly limits a major life activity, such as learning, hearing, seeing, or walking. You can also show a disability if you have a record of having a disability. Finally, you can show a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that is not passing and insignificant. The ADA also prohibits discrimination against an employee or applicant based on their relationship with a person with a disability.

Discrimination is not allowed with regard to any aspect of employment, including promotions, layoffs, training, assignments, hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, or promotions. Harassment is one form of discrimination. Harassment based on a disability is illegal if it is so severe or frequent that it creates a hostile work environment or gives rise to an adverse employment decision.

Under the ADA, an employer is supposed to provide a reasonable accommodation to employees or job applicants with disabilities unless providing this would cause an undue hardship for the employer.

The New York State Human Rights Law

The New York State Human Rights Law mirrors the ADA in many respects. It covers employers that have a minimum of four employees. However, it has a different definition of a disability. Under state law, a disability is: (1) a medical, mental, or physical impairment arising from neurological, anatomical, genetic, or physiological conditions that stop the use of normal bodily functions or are demonstrable through medically accepted clinical or lab diagnostic techniques, (2) a record of this impairment, or (3) a condition considered by others as such an impairment, as long as the term is limited to disabilities that do not stop the complainant from performing the relevant job tasks in a reasonable way.

Under state law, the person asking for an accommodation and their attorney must prove that if a reasonable accommodation is provided, the condition would not stop the person from performing in a reasonable way the activities involved in the occupation or the job held or wanted. The employer can use an undue hardship as an affirmative defense.

Local Disability Discrimination Laws

The New York City Human Rights Law is the local law that prohibits disability discrimination, and it defines disability more broadly than either state or federal laws. It covers employers that have at least five employees. Under this law, a disability includes any psychological, mental, medical, or physical impairment, as well as a history or record of being so impaired. Impairments are defined as an impairment of any bodily system, including the musculoskeletal system, the respiratory organs, the special sense organs, the neurological system, the digestive systems, the genito-urinary systems, the hemic and lymphatic systems, the endocrine system, the immunological systems, and the skin. It also includes mental or psychological impairments. Unlike the other laws, the burden of proof in the city law is with the employer that is refusing the accommodation or claiming that to provide the accommodation would present an undue hardship.

Contact a Skillful Disability Discrimination Lawyer in New York City

At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you if you are concerned about workplace discrimination or harassment related to a disability. Our attorneys understand the disability discrimination laws that apply to people in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties and in New Jersey. Contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free consultation.

45 Broadway, #620,
New York NY, 10006
Tel: 212-248-7431
Fax: 212-901-2107
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