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What are Reasonable Accommodations?

By Thomas McKinney

Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled employees. Should an employer fail to provide such reasonable accommodations, the employee may be able to bring a disability discrimination lawsuit. To do so, the employee must be able to demonstrate that they have a disability, is otherwise qualified to perform essential job functions, and still suffered an adverse employment action due to the handicap. As you can see, it is important for employers and employees to understand what exactly is meant by “reasonable accommodations” and, thus, what expectations and requirements the law has of employers in providing such to disabled employees. We’ll talk more about that here.

What are Reasonable Accommodations?

It is important to first note that the NJLAD only requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees unless the extent and nature of their disability prevents them from performing the essential duties of the job. Should an employee be able to perform the essential duties with or without the employer providing reasonable accommodations, then the employee is entitled under the NJLAD to such accommodations. An employer must provide such accommodations when an employee with a disability requests accommodation assistance in order to perform their work duties. Such a request need not be in writing, nor are there any particular formalities that must be observed in making such a request. The request need only make it clear that the employee is requesting assistance for their disability.

After an employee has made a request for assistance in the form of a reasonable accommodation, both the employer and the employee have a duty to make a good faith effort in looking for a reasonable accommodation appropriate under the circumstances. Oftentimes, a reasonable accommodation will be something like making a facility handicap accessible with ramps and other features. Other times, a reasonable accommodation may look like the restructuring of a job with a modified work schedule. As long as the accommodation is reasonable, the NJLAD requires the employer to take the necessary actions to implement the accommodation.

An accommodation that puts an undue strain on the employer or would cause an employer undue hardship, however, is not considered a reasonable accommodation. The hardship may be logistical or financial. Should a court be asked to assess whether an accommodation would cause an employer an undue hardship, they will look to many factors, including:

  • The size of the business
  • The budget of the business
  • The type of facility used by the business
  • The nature of business operations
  • The cost of the accommodation
  • The nature of the accommodation
  • Whether the accommodation would impact an essential job requirement or business necessity

Employment Law Attorneys

If your employer has denied your request for a reasonable accommodation, then you may have a disability discrimination claim on your hands. Let us help you pursue justice and your right to be free from the effects of discrimination in the workplace. The dedicated team at Castronovo & McKinney is here for you. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.