Eugenio Benvenuto is a law clerk assisting the New York City employment lawyers at Phillips & Associates. He provides legal and administrative support to attorneys for trial preparation and handles client intake in connection with many legal matters, such as those involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and reasonable accommodations. He studied international law at Universidad de Jaen (Spain) in 2009, and graduated from Universita’ degli Studi di Perugia (Italy) Law School in 2013. He also received an LL.M. in U.S. & Comparative Law from Fordham Law School (New York) in 2015. Before moving to New York, Mr. Benvenuto worked as a legal consultant and legal intern at civil litigation firms in Cosenza, Italy. Since 2015, Mr. Benvenuto’s practice focuses on employment law litigation. He served as a law clerk at another firm before joining Phillips & Associates. Mr. Benvenuto is a native Italian speaker and is fluent in English and Spanish.
Some of the clients whom he helps are seeking reasonable accommodations in the workplace based on pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, or a disability. Federal, state, and local laws provide protection to disabled and pregnant workers, but each law has its own nuances. For example, the New York City Human Rights Law is an expansive anti-discrimination law that requires employers covered by it to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and pregnant workers or people with pregnancy-related conditions, among other groups.
A reasonable accommodation is an alteration to the work environment or the way that a job is done that permits someone with a disability to do essential job functions or to enjoy privileges that other non-disabled employees enjoy. It can include, for example, modification of shift schedules, restructuring of the job, provision of equipment, leave, transfer, additional breaks or different breaks, the provision of an interpreter, or reassignment.
The only exception to the right to a reasonable accommodation is when providing the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. It is an illegal discriminatory practice for an employer covered by the New York City Human Rights Law not to engage in good faith in a dialogue with you about your needs if you are entitled to an accommodation.
Once a final determination is reached at the conclusion of the cooperative dialogue, the employer needs to give a written final determination to you, identifying the type of accommodation that will be granted. The requirement of a written determination is supposed to make sure that the employer has tried to engage in a cooperative dialogue with you.
The New York City Human Rights Law differs in important ways from the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The ADA does require employers covered by the ADA to engage in an interactive process with you if you ask for an accommodation. However, it does not specify the precise steps that employers are required to take when engaging in the interactive process. Unlike the clear mandate under city law, federal courts do not always agree on whether it is a violation for an employer to fail to start an interactive process.
Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, a woman who is not able to perform her work because of pregnancy or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth must be treated the same way by an employer as it would treat any other employee with a temporary disability. For example, if an employer would provide light duty to a worker with a broken leg, it may need to provide that to a pregnant employee with pubic symphysis. If the employer provides unpaid leave to a worker with pneumonia, this will need to be provided to a pregnant worker with preeclampsia. Sometimes pregnancy results in conditions that are disabilities covered by the ADA, and in that case as well, the employer may need to give a reasonable accommodation for the pregnancy-related disability unless it would pose an undue hardship.
Disabled and pregnant workers have the right to be given the same opportunities for employment and terms and conditions of employment as others. Mr. Benvenuto helps clients seeking reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and disability, among many other remedies. If you believe that you have been a victim of mistreatment on the job, contact us at (212) 248-7431 or through our online form for a free appointment. We handle employment litigation in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as Nassau, Westchester, and Suffolk Counties, and in New Jersey.
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