The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination is one of the strongest anti-discrimination statutes in the country in its protection against disability discrimination. The NJLAD provides even broader protection against disability discrimination than the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Disability discrimination appears in the workplace in various scenarios, including refusal to provide reasonable accommodations, harassment on the basis of disability, refusal to provide proper leave, retaliation for exercising leave, refusal to hire and promote, and wrongful termination. Disabilities protected by the Law Against Discrimination are very broad and even protect against conditions that may not be thought of as traditional disabilities, such as allergies, asthma, depression, obesity, and alcoholism.
Some of our notable and successful disability discrimination cases include Owens v. Department of Treasury, where a pensions worker recovered $650,000 after the denial of her request for reasonable accommodation for her laryngitis lead to permanent vocal paralysis; Leshner v. McCollister’s Transportation Systems, where the Court ruled that a Plaintiff can maintain a cause of action where the employer overworked an employee beyond the point of exhaustion and then refused to accommodate a physician’s request that he be restricted to a normal amount of hours; and Apatoff v. Munich Re Am. Srvcs., in which the Court denied summary judgment, allowing a case to go forward based upon an asthma disability.
Failure to Reasonably Accommodate
As part of its protection of persons with disabilities, the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for persons who suffer a disability so long as the requested accommodation does not cause the employer undue hardship. It does not matter whether the disability was work-related or personal, and it does not matter if the disability was caused by injury or illness.
Reasonable accommodations can take many forms. It can be for special equipment, such as an ergonomic chair, or it can be for mundane requests, such as permission to use a closer restroom or for the computer screen to have a larger font. An employer is also required to provide additional time off, so long as the employer does not suffer undue hardship in providing such additional leave. It is important to note that leave under the LAD can be longer than the leave provided by the Family and Medical Act (FMLA).
It is important that your physician or mental health provider understand exactly what accommodations you need and are interactive in the process of assisting you. If your health care provider is hesitant or confused about writing you a proper note for your disability, it is important to involve an attorney so that the request for accommodation can conform with the law.
If you experiencing negative treatment in the workplace in New Jersey because of your disability, you should not wait until it is too late to save your job. Our discrimination lawyers can advise you on the proper steps to take to protect yourself. Do not expect to get completely accurate information from your employer's human resources department. We can help you navigate the minefield of disability discrimination law in NJ. Many of these cases are handled on a contingent fee basis (no fee unless recovery). Please call or e-mail now for a free initial telephone consultation.