New York City recently adopted amendments to the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) to extend new and heightened protections to employees requesting reasonable accommodations. Starting October 15, 2018, employers are required to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with (i) employees with disabilities; (ii) pregnant women; (iii) victims of domestic violence; and (iv) individuals in need of religious accommodations, who request reasonable accommodations from their employer.
To engage in a “cooperative dialogue,” an employer must discuss with the employee his or her accommodation needs and potential alternative accommodations. Upon completion of a cooperative dialogue, the employer is obligated to provide a written final determination stating whether the accommodation request was granted or denied. An employer who either fails to engage in “cooperative dialogue” with a covered employee or provide a written final determination will have violated the NYCHRL for failure to provide reasonable accommodation.
These amendments are significant, as they will provide far greater protection to employees seeking reasonable accommodations than what is currently provided under the federal law pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). The ADA mandates only that employers engage in an “interactive process,” rather than the more stringent “cooperative dialogue.” Moreover, unlike the NYCHRL following these amendments – the ADA only extends to pregnant women in certain situations, and does not protect victims of domestic violence or individuals in need of religious accommodations.
The amendments will also provide much needed clarity to New York City employees regarding their rights. While the ADA requires that employers engage in an “interactive process,” the law provides no guidance as to what such a process entails. This has left employees uncertain as to whether their rights had been violated. Now, New York City employees have the benefit of clear guidelines their employers must follow.
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Faruqi & Faruqi focuses on complex civil litigation, including securities, shareholder derivative actions, merger litigation, antitrust, employment law, wage and hour, and consumer class actions. The firm is headquartered in New York, and maintains offices in Delaware, Pennsylvania, California, and Georgia. Since its founding in 1995, Faruqi & Faruqi has served as lead or co-lead counsel in numerous high-profile cases which ultimately provided significant recoveries to investors, consumers and employees.
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About Innessa Melamed Huot
Innessa Huot is a Partner in Faruqi & Faruqi’s New York office and focuses her practice on employment law and wage and hour class action litigation.