Amendment to NYC Human Rights Law For Reasonable Accommodation Requests

A recent amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law now requires employers to handle employee requests for reasonable accommodations in a specific manner. The New York City Council amended the law, which takes effect on October 15, 2018, in response to employers’ failure to acknowledge and appropriately handle requests for reasonable accommodations by their employees. The amendment requires employers to participate in a cooperative discussion with an employee who needs accommodations for:

  • Religious purposes;
  • Disability;
  • Pregnancy; and
  • Domestic violence, stalking, or a sex offense.

Furthermore, the amendment requires that in good faith, the employer address the following during their written or oral discussion with their employee:

  • Accommodation request;
  • Accommodation wishes and proposed alternatives; and
  • Difficulties imposed on an employer.

Prior to this amendment, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission required employers to have an interactive dialogue with an employee as part of the request for accommodations process. In essence, employers were already required to actively partake in this process. However, the amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law has broadened this requirement by establishing a set of specific points that must be discussed during the written or oral discussion.

In addition to the requirements stated above, an employer in New York City must document their final decision on the employee’s request for reasonable accommodations in a signed writing. Even if the accommodation is granted, failing to document the final decision in a signed writing is deemed to be an unlawful discriminatory practice and will subject an employer to liability.

It is important for employers to educate management, human resources personnel, and employees on the amendment to the law to ensure that their company remains compliant. The failure to do so will result in unlawful discriminatory practices.

New York City does not tolerate unlawful discriminatory practices against employees. New York City has one of the toughest human rights laws in order to protect its employees against intolerable behaviors. If you believe you have faced discrimination by your employer or have been wrongfully terminated, contact an experienced New York employment law attorney who can ensure that your rights are protected. Call Steven Mitchell Sack at (917) 371-8000 or email him at sms@StevenSack.com.

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