Phillips & Associates

New York State Disability Discrimination Laws

Knowledgeable Lawyers Helping Employees in New York City

It is illegal under the New York State Human Rights Law for employers to discriminate against job applicants or employees on the basis of their disabilities. While there are certain strong parallels between the state and federal laws, there are also important differences. If you suspect a violation of New York State disability discrimination laws by your employer, you should contact the New York City disability discrimination lawyers at Phillips & Associates.

New York State Disability Discrimination Laws

The New York State Human Rights Law covers smaller businesses than does federal law. Your employer is covered by state law if it has at least four employees. The protection of state law is critical because there are so many small businesses in New York City. As with federal law, disability discrimination in any aspect of employment is prohibited. Intentionally prejudiced employment actions are prohibited, but so are any actions or omissions that work to deny disabled people access to the same job benefits that non-disabled employees or job applicants enjoy.

The New York State Human Rights Law also has a different definition of disability than does federal law. Under state law, a disability refers to: (1) a medical, mental, or physical impairment arising from neurological, genetic, physiological, or anatomical conditions that stop the exercise of normal bodily functions or that are shown through a medically accepted laboratory diagnostic method or clinical method, or (2) a record of having this type of impairment, or (3) being perceived as having this type of impairment.

Reasonable Accommodations

Generally, covered disabilities under state law are those that do not stop you from performing in a reasonable way the job tasks of the job or occupation that you want or hold. If you meet the definition of a disability and are qualified for a job, you may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is a change to the workplace that allows a qualified individual to do the job. An employer is supposed to consider a reasonable accommodation when it knows of the disability, as well as the need for an accommodation. It must also be considered if you, as a qualified employee or applicant, let the employer know about your disability and ask for an accommodation. It must also be considered if you are a current employee who is disabled, and you let the employer know about the disability and ask to be accommodated, even though there has not been a change in your condition.

Your attorney will need to prove that if a reasonable accommodation were provided to you, your disability would not stop you from performing in a reasonable way the essential job functions. Essential job functions are those that are fundamental to the job at issue, whether it is one to which you are applying, one that you have, or one to which you are seeking a promotion. The criteria for determining the essential job functions include the employer's judgment about what is essential, how often other employees perform that function, and the direct, specific consequences to an employer's business if the function is not performed by you, as the particular disabled individual.

The employer, meanwhile, can raise the affirmative defense that providing an accommodation would present an undue hardship. Factors that go into determining whether the provision of an accommodation really does pose an undue hardship are the hardships, costs, or problems that it causes for an employer, including any hardship presented to other employees. An employer should not discriminate against you or retaliate against you for exercising your right to ask for a reasonable accommodation.


You may be able to recover compensatory damages for disability discrimination. These may include back pay and emotional distress. Unlike federal law, compensatory damages are not capped under state law. However, under the New York State Human Rights Law, you cannot recover punitive damages or attorneys' fees or costs.

Retain a Skillful Disability Rights Lawyer in New York City

At Phillips & Associates, we may be able to help you if you have been subjected to workplace discrimination or harassment related to a physical or mental disability. Our attorneys 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 (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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I was a client with this law firm. I can't stress enough how awesome and professional the people are here. Silvia & Erica made me feel so comfortable and welcome. I never had to guess anything. Anytime I call, emailed, or even texted. They were always there. If not they would get back to me as soon as possible. My case was not an easy situation for me but I tell you these guys made it seem like it was. I'm so glad that I use Phillip & Phillip. I thank you guys from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful to have met such awesome, honest, and caring people. Thank you again. Djuana
I highly recommend Parisis (Gerry) Fillippatos with Phillips & Associates to represent you for employment related matters. He and his team were professional, attentive to every detail and brilliant at identifying the legal grounds to win the case. Parisis's communication and delivery were highly articulate and precise. He is personable and makes you feel comfortable in the maze of legal jargon. Finally, his confidence, perseverance and masterful negotiation skills deliver the win. Anonymous
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