Attorneys Robert W. Smith and Christopher J. Eibeler

Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable AccommodationNew Jersey Employment Discrimination Lawyers

Employees with a physical or mental disability may sometimes need special accommodations in order to perform the essential functions of their job. For example, an employee confined to a wheelchair may need modifications to be made to their work space; someone battling severe depression may need a temporary leave of absence to seek treatment; a worker with arthritis may need a special orthopedic chair to relieve pain.

So long as the request for an accommodation is reasonable, New Jersey and federal laws require employers to grant it. If the accommodation does not put undue strain on the employer (whether financially or logistically), the employer must honor the employee's request and provide the reasonable accommodation. The failure of an employer to accommodate reasonable a request of a disabled employee may be unlawful in certain circumstances and grounds for a discrimination claim.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination Requires Employers To Reasonably Accommodate their Handicapped Employees

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for their handicapped employees unless the nature and extent of the employee's handicap reasonably precludes job performance.

In a disability discrimination lawsuit alleging failure to reasonably accommodate, the employee must show that he or she (1) has a disability; (2) is otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without the accommodation by the employer, and (3) nonetheless suffered an adverse employment action because of the handicap.

An employer's duty to reasonably accommodate is triggered when an employee requests assistance to perform their work duties as a result of their disability. In requesting the accommodation, the employee need not put the request in writing or even use the phrase reasonable accommodation. An employee may use plain English and need not mention the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, Americans with Disabilities Act or any other legal source requiring accommodation. While there are no magic words to seek an accommodation, the employee, however, must make clear that assistance is desired for his or her disability.

Examples of a workplace reasonable accommodation may include making facilities ready accessible and usable to handicapped individuals, job restructuring (including part-time or modified work schedules), medical leaves of absence, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices or job reassignments.

Once the employee requests assistance from his or her employer, both the employer and the employee have a duty to act in good faith in the search for appropriate reasonable accommodation. To determine what appropriate accommodation is necessary, the employer must initiate an informal "interactive process" with the employee. The "interactive process" is used to identify the potential reasonable accommodations that could be adopted to overcome the employee's precise limitations resulting from the disability.

To show that an employer failed to participate in the interactive process, a disabled employee must demonstrate that (1) the employer knew about the employee's disability; (2) the employee requested accommodations or assistance for her disability; (3) the employer did not make a good faith effort to assist the employee in seeking accommodations; and (4) the employee could have been reasonably accommodated but for the employer's lack of good faith.

An employer need not reasonably accommodate a disabled employee if it can show that the requested reasonable accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its business operations. When employers utilize this "undue hardship" defense, courts will consider factors such as the overall size of the business in terms of employees, number and type of facilities and budget, the nature of the operations, including the composition and structure of the workforce, the nature and cost of the accommodation needed and to the extent to which accommodation would require waiver of an essential requirement of the job as opposed to a tangential or non-business necessity requirement.

Whether an employer has made a reasonable accommodation, engaged in the interactive process, or has determined that the requested reasonable accommodation poses an undue hardship of the employers business operations are all determined on a case-by-case basis.

If you believe your employer has discriminated against you because of your disability or has made a bad faith effort to accommodate your request for assistance, feel free contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced employment law attorneys.

DISCLAIMER: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Client Reviews
★★★★★
We had a wrongful termination issue combined with a denial of unemployment insurance. Chris Eibeler was our primary attorney. His partner Bob Smith also consulted and gave us good advice. They were both so kind, caring, and professional. They guided us though a very tough time and a positive outcome versus a prior employer. They were also able to reverse our denial of unemployment insurance. I cannot recommend Smith and Eibeler highly enough. The entire staff is very professional, personable, and caring. Tom Wilson
★★★★★
I went to Smith Eibeler LLC for a last minute unemployment matter. Chris, Diane and his staff were very professional and easy to talk to. They provided knowledgeable insight and also kept me in the loop with the what was happening. I would not hesitate to go to him again. John Jung
★★★★★
Chris Eibeler (and the whole team) is very knowledgeable in all aspects of employment/unemployment here in NJ. They break down the most difficult aspects of the law, which allows you to conceptualize and better understand the complexities of the NJ Labor & Employment system. Smith Eibeler should be your first call regarding any Employment, workforce, or Labor questions here in New Jersey. I highly recommend them. Brian Allen
★★★★★
I approached Chris Eibeler regarding an unemployment case in early 2016. Him and his staff are some of the most professional people I have ever dealt with. The process took a while, but his approach to hard questioning helped me win my case. He knows how to get the job done and I am glad I went to him. I would recommend him to anyone in the future who asks for a lawyer. Thank you Chris! Tim F.
★★★★★
I highly recommend the office of Smith Eibeler for employment related issues, particularly anything related to restrictive covenants or post-employment contracts. I found Smith Eibeler via the web and cannot believe how fortunate I am to have found them. My case was handled by Bob Smith who represented me in a potential lawsuit by my former employer for violation of a post-employment contract (not a restrictive covenant per se). Bob was professional, friendly, understanding, and above all extremely helpful. Bob helped me avoid a lawsuit and was extremely knowledgeable in this field. I was thoroughly impressed with his prowess. Hopefully I will never have a legal issue related to employment again, but if I do, I will not hesitate to retain Smith Eibeler again! Gavin Tully