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New York City Disability Discrimination Laws

Discrimination Attorneys Advocating for New York City Employees

Disability discrimination in New York City workplaces is prohibited under the New York City Human Rights Law. It applies to employers in the city that have at least five employees. Although there are certain ways in which it is similar to federal and state laws, it is generally considered more expansive, providing greater protections both in scope and in terms of remedies than either federal or state laws. At Phillips & Associates, our New York City disability discrimination attorneys can evaluate your particular situation to determine whether the application of the city law would be favorable for your case. We provide thorough, aggressive legal representation to disabled individuals in the workplace.

New York City Disability Discrimination Laws

Under the New York City Human Rights Law, "disability" has a broad definition. It includes: (1) any psychological, mental, medical, or physical impairment, or (2) any history or record of that impairment. The impairment must be of a system of the body, whether it be the neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, hemic and lymphatic, immunological, digestive, genito-urinary, or endocrine systems, or the skin. However, it can also be a mental or psychological impairment, such as one caused by bipolar disorder or a personality disorder.

The New York City law is more inclusive than either state or federal laws. There is no requirement that your disability be shown through medically accepted lab tests or techniques. Nor must it affect a normal bodily function. As with state law, if you have a history or record of impairments, you are also considered disabled for the purposes of obtaining the protection of the city law. However, there is no explicit recognition that you are protected simply because others perceive you to have a disability, even if you do not.

Reasonable Accommodations

If you ask for a reasonable accommodation for your disability, your New York City employer is required to get involved in a good-faith cooperative dialogue with you. The purpose is to figure out which accommodation would be reasonable, given a particular disability. In some cases, an employer may be able to provide you with an alternative accommodation from the specific one that you requested, but it may need more information to figure out whether that would help you or not. At the conclusion of the dialogue, your employer is supposed to give you a written final decision stating if an accommodation was granted or refused.

Generally, the city law is very expansive and favorable to plaintiffs, even more so than either the federal or state anti-discrimination laws. Rather than putting the burden on your attorney and you to show that you are qualified to do a job with or without a reasonable accommodation, as the state law does, the city law puts the burden on your employer to show that you are not qualified to do the job at issue. An employer is considered to know what the real needs of a particular job are, and which accommodations would be reasonable. In most cases, job applicants and employees do not know the details of a position that they do not have, or why those needs exist from the business' perspective. In most cases, the employer understands better which accommodations it is able to offer.


The remedies available if you have been a victim of disability discrimination are also greater under the city law than they are under state or federal laws. As with the ADA, you can recover punitive damages and attorneys' fees. However, whereas the ADA places caps on the amount of compensatory damages, based on the size of the employer, the city law has no such caps. You can recover an unlimited amount of compensatory damages based on what the jury believes flows from what you suffered. Punitive damages are restricted only by what is constitutional. Under the city law, there may be civil penalties available as well.

Discuss Your Disability Discrimination Case with a New York City Attorney

At Phillips & Associates, we can help you if you believe that you were affected by a violation of the New York City disability discrimination laws. We can develop a strategy to pursue damages for people in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, as well as in Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties and in New Jersey. Contact us at (833) 529-3476 or through our online form for a free consultation with an attorney.

What Our Clients Say?
"Phillips & Associates did a wonderful job. I would recommend Brittany Stevens." Angel
"Employment dispute I had a dispute with my former employer, Jesse Weinstein was patient and thorough with my case. He covered every angle and was able to help me with my dispute. I would recommend Jesse Weinstein and Phillips and Associates in the future to anyone." Margaret
"Hands down the best law firm for labor disputes in NYC. Being in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years I can say that this law firm is the number one choice for workers in the restaurant business that need to sue their company for wrongful termination. A special compliment to my lawyer Brittany Stevens. An amazing person and well prepared experienced lawyer. She was professional and empathetic to my case and worked in a time appropriate manner. She never miss a phone call at any hour of the day. Brittany and her team helped me with what I needed, when I needed it. I want to thank them all (especially Brittany), for a job well done." Massimo
"Jesse Weinstein handled my discrimination case. He was extremely patient and understanding throughout the process and remained professional and consistent even when I could not. I really felt like he had my back and I didn't have to worry. His expertise, combined with the experience of the Firm, resulted in the best possible outcome of my case. Although I wouldn't wish what I went through on anyone, things do and always will happen and I would highly recommend Jesse and this Firm to anyone facing discrimination or other workplace issues." Karen
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