New Jersey Employers’ Duties and Obligations under the ADA and NJLAD

Posted May 21, 2024

  • New Jersey Employers’ Duties and Obligations under the ADA and NJLAD

New Jersey employers are required to comply with both the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”, 42 U.S.C. § 12102) and New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq.) when dealing with a disabled employee. Both of these laws protect disabled employees from workplace discrimination, while the NJLAD’s protections extend to other protected characteristics, such as race and gender.

The protections under the ADA are invoked once an employee notifies their employer, even informally, of a medical condition or other disability which requires an accommodation. Once receiving such notification, the burden is then on the employer to initiate the “interactive process,” where the employer and employee collaborate to develop a workplace accommodation, such as a modified work schedule or change of position, that would enable the employee to complete the “essential functions” of their job. However, such accommodations need only be “reasonable” and not impose an “undue hardship” for the employer.

Undue hardships from a workplace accommodation can either be “operational” or “financial,” i.e. the accommodation would significantly interfere with the operations of the business, or would require a significant and prohibitive financial burden on the employer.

Employers should develop and maintain comprehensive policies that address ADA and NJLAD compliance. These policies should include procedures for requesting accommodations and handling complaints of discrimination, keeping in mind that employees are not required to strictly adhere to those procedures in order to invoke their rights under the ADA. Once engaged in the “interactive process” to develop a reasonable workplace accommodation, employers should document each step in order to ensure compliance and protect themselves against potential litigation. Employers should also inspect and audit their workplace in order to ensure that all facilities are accessible to employees.

Navigating and complying with the ADA and NJLAD sufficiently to avoid costly litigation can be complicated. That is why it is crucial to consult with an experienced employment law attorney when such issues arise.

About the Author

Robert Devaney, an associate with the firm, concentrates his practice in labor & employment law, education & school law, and family law. Robert focuses a large part of his practice on working with Military Veterans with their labor, employment, and family law matters. Having served in the United States Marine Corps for nine years before receiving his Honorable Discharge, Robert has a unique understanding of the issues that Veterans face in these areas. For example, he serves as legal counsel to the New Jersey Veterans Network.

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