Most people with disabilities are eager to participate in the workforce, and can perform many jobs if provided with adaptive equipment or reasonable special allowances. Unfortunately, however, many employers cannot look past the person's impairment and only see "can't" or "cost."
The employment law attorneys of Costello & Mains, LLC, have successfully represented disabled persons who experienced discrimination in hiring or discrimination in the workplace, including claims for failure to make reasonable accommodations.
Our Mount Laurel law firm handles employment discrimination litigation in Burlington County, South Jersey and statewide New Jersey. Contact us today to explore your legal remedies with our experienced trial attorneys.
NJ Lawyers For Failure To Accommodate Employee Disabilities
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit employers from discriminating against people solely on the basis of their physical or mental disability if they are able to meet the criteria of the job listing. Both of these laws also require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees' disabilities.
"Reasonable" accommodation is somewhat open to interpretation. However, employers have an obligation to engage in a good faith dialogue with the job candidate or employee to try to meet the request for accommodations or negotiate an alternative. In reality, many employers balk at any additional cost or any special considerations and automatically say no.
We can pursue compensation for disability discrimination or take employers to court to force them to make accommodations. Our legal team can explore all forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities:
- Phony or unrealistic job prerequisites
- Screening out candidates with impairments or accommodation requests
- Lower pay and benefits
- Lesser duties and responsibilities
- Barriers to advancement
- Disciplinary action for disability-related breaks or absence
- Wrongful termination
- Failure to make reasonable accommodations
- Failure to engage in an interactive process with the disabled worker
Standing Up To Disability Discrimination In Your New Jersey Workplace
We work to demonstrate that employers were hostile to persons with disabilities or unwilling to make concessions that would allow our clients to contribute. You may be entitled to monetary compensation for the economic loss and emotional duress, or injunctive relief compelling the employer to make accommodations. Even temporary disability or handicap can often lead to devastating impacts on one's health, family life, outlook on life and opportunities. Disease, injury, handicap and disability can often be life-changing.
One of the areas where someone shouldn't have to worry when they are dealing with all these other impacts is regarding the safety of their job.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) both offer protections against discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as even perceived disability, whether the disabilities are permanent or temporary.
Sometimes, a medical condition or illness or injury, whether or not it is suffered on the job, can be life-changing enough that it invokes the protection of the ADA and the LAD. When an employee needs a "reasonable accommodation" to allow him or her to treat or contend with the disability or handicap in order to become once more fully productive on the job, the employer must engage in a "good faith, interactive process" to decide whether or not an accommodation is reasonable and can be offered. If an accommodation is reasonable, it must be offered.
Of course, there are many factors in what goes into whether or not an accommodation is reasonable or not, or whether it constitutes an undue burden on the employer. Employer size, the nature of the affected employee's job and a number of other factors all play in to the discussion. Employers are not allowed, however, to simply refuse to participate in the discussion, to require employees to come back when they are "100 percent" if this wouldn't be fair, or otherwise evade or excuse their obligations under the LAD and the ADA.
Wheelchair accessible is only one form of accommodation. Changing job assignments, changing work locations (work from home), changing job titles and responsibilities, are all possible reasonable accommodations. Even short leaves of absence or periods of temporary disability — with a return to the same or similar work — may be acceptable accommodations.
The idea of the LAD and the ADA is to balance the rights of the employer and the employee to make sure that the employee's disability or handicap, whether temporary or permanent, doesn't separate him or her from a job unnecessarily.
In addition to it being illegal to refuse to reasonably accommodate a disability, or to refuse to engage in the good faith interactive process, it is also illegal to discriminate because someone has a disability or handicap that makes him or her less useful to the employer, or makes the employer or its customer base uncomfortable. Certain health conditions, injuries, diseases and handicaps might make people uncomfortable, but as long as they don't present a risk to other employees or to customers, an employer must not discriminate against an employee simply because the individual has a disease, disability, injury or handicap.
Disability Or Perceived Disability
Even more significant is the perception of disability. Even if someone's medical condition doesn't rise to the level of disability, as defined by the law, if an employer perceives, incorrectly, that the employee is more injured, sick or disabled than he or she really is, or is "less useful" than the employer would like the person to be, the employer is prohibited from discriminating against that person, even if the person does not have a qualifying disability or handicap, as long as the employer thinks that the employee does.
Discriminating against someone "mistakenly" because you believe him or her to be a member of a protected group is as illegal and as objectionable under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the federal ADA as discriminating against a person who actually is a member of the protected group.
Not every disability, handicap or disease can be fully accommodated on every job. The Mount Laurel, New Jersey, employment rights lawyers of Costello & Mains, LLC, are experienced at pursuing the fullest extent of the reasonable results of the good faith interactive process, and bringing lawsuits under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the Americans with Disabilities Act when the good faith interactive process is not followed or not followed properly.
Costello & Mains advocates for workers with all types of disabilities. Contact us today for a confidential consultation with our New Jersey disability discrimination lawyers.