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, #430
New York, NY 10006
Tel: 212-248-7431
Fax: 212-901-2107
Client Reviews
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
I called at Phillips & Associates seeking for a consultation and I was very pleased with the conversation I had with Eugenio Benvenuto. He was able to answer my questions thoroughly and gave me reassurance. I highly recommend their practice. Giulia
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.The other associates that assisted Brittany were Yusha Hiraman and Eugenio Benvenuto. They were all professional and answered any questions or concerns that I had. 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