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What Happens if an Employer Cannot Accommodate Work Restrictions?

Your New York City employer can only refuse to accommodate your work restrictions if it is able to show that providing you with a reasonable accommodation for your disability would constitute an undue hardship under the applicable federal, state, and local laws. Your employer will not need to make changes if it would generate an undue hardship given its particular circumstances. However, the undue hardship analysis is complicated and varies depending both on circumstances and statutory interpretation. Your employer may only retain a lawyer to evaluate the situation after a lawsuit is filed. For that reason, it is crucial to retain a seasoned New York City employment discrimination attorney. At Phillips & Associates, we strive to fight for worker justice. If your employer claims to be unable to accommodate your work restrictions and you believe this may not be true, you should give us a call. Understanding the precarity of your situation, we offer free consultations. We can talk with you about whether your employer should have accommodated your work restrictions and the process by which it should have figured out whether providing accommodations was feasible. We also represent clients on a contingency fee basis. We have recovered more than $110 million for our clients in a wide range of employment discrimination suits.

Experienced Plaintiffs’ Lawyers for Failure to Accommodate Cases

Failure to provide a reasonable accommodation is a form of disability discrimination under the ADA, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. If your employer claims it cannot accommodate your work restrictions, but it would not present an undue hardship for it to do so, our lawyers can pursue damages under the applicable laws by filing a lawsuit in federal or state court on your behalf.  It’s important to realize that the reasonable accommodations process is complicated and seeking legal counsel is a wise move you should take to protect your rights, your job, and your livelihood.

To recover damages in a lawsuit for failure to accommodate under the ADA, your employer must have at least 15 employees and you must be a qualified individual who can perform essential job functions with or without accommodations. The ADA has a narrower definition of disability than do state and local laws. If your employer can’t accommodate work restrictions, we will need to look at whether the court is likely to believe your employer could have provided you with an accommodation without experiencing undue hardship.

The New York State Human Rights Law specifies that your employer should accommodate your work restrictions even if you are the only employee. It also provides that nonemployees such as independent contractors, subcontractors, and others who work for a business should also be provided with reasonable accommodations for their disabilities.

The New York City Human Rights Law covers workplaces with at least 4 employees. It provides substantial protection to workers with disabilities. In addition to having an inclusive definition of disability, it specifies that your employer should engage with you in a cooperative dialogue to explore options for accommodations and provide you with written notification of its decision.

Undue Hardship

The ADA’s undue hardship standard is distinct from what’s applied by the court when evaluating accommodations under state or local law. Even before we analyze whether a specific reasonable accommodation would generate undue hardship as the court would see it, we’ll have to look at whether you’re “qualified” such that you should receive a reasonable accommodation.

A “qualified” worker is someone with a disability who can still perform all essential job functions with or without a reasonable accommodation. A disability is one of the following:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially restricts one or more of an individual’s major life activities
  • A record of that impairment
  • Being regarded as having that type of impairment.

Assuming you are “qualified” and have a disability, your employer should engage in a good faith interactive dialogue with you to determine whether it can accommodate your work restrictions. Your employer doesn’t need to provide you with the specific accommodation you’ve requested. Rather, you and employer can talk about how you’re limited in your work and what you need to be able to do your job. The analysis is case-by-case, and slightly different under federal, state, and local laws.

Under the New York State Human Rights Law, you should go through an interactive process with your employer to figure out an appropriate accommodation. The New York City Human Rights Law requires a cooperative dialogue that considers:

  • Your need for an accommodation.
  • Initiation of a cooperative dialogue.
  • Discussion with you in good faith
  • Notification to the employee in writing of the employer’s determination about the accommodation.

Similarly, under the New York City Human Rights Law, your employer needs to engage with you in a cooperative dialogue if you ask for an accommodation for a disability. This requirement imposes substantial new duties on employers in New York City.

Consult the Experienced Employment Discrimination Lawyers

Phillips & Associates is a plaintiff’s firm that fights for disabled workers who need reasonable accommodations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, Nassau County or Suffolk County. Call us at (833) 529-3476 or complete our online form for a free consultation.

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"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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