The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) is a comprehensive state law that prohibits discrimination in employment based on disability and membership in other protected classes. This prohibition includes discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions, pay, benefits, job assignments, and training.

Under the NJLAD, disability discrimination occurs when an employer mistreats an employee or job applicant because of a physical or mental disability. This discrimination can include failing to provide reasonable accommodations to allow the individual to perform the essential duties of their job or treating the employee differently because of their disability.

The NJLAD defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being perceived as having such an impairment. This definition is broader than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which only protects individuals with disabilities that substantially limit a major life activity.

The NJLAD requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or the way work is customarily done that would allow an individual with a disability to perform the essential duties of their job. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Modifying work schedules
  • Providing special equipment or assistive technology
  • Making physical changes to the workplace
  • Allowing an employee to work from home

It is important to note that an employee must request a reasonable accommodation for the employer to provide one. The employee does not have to use the term “reasonable accommodation” in their request. Still, they must clarify that they need assistance to perform their job duties because of a disability.

Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against employees associated with someone with a disability, such as a family member. This type of discrimination is known as “associational discrimination.”

If employees believe they have been the victim of disability discrimination in the workplace, they can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR). The DCR is a state agency that investigates discrimination claims and works to resolve them through mediation or administrative hearings. Suppose the DCR determines that discrimination has occurred. In that case, it can order the employer to take corrective action, such as providing the employee with back pay or promoting them to a higher position.

Employees can also file a lawsuit in state court alleging disability discrimination under the NJLAD. To succeed on a disability discrimination claim, the employee must show that they have a disability, that they were qualified to perform the essential duties of their job, and that they were mistreated because of their disability.

Employees must act quickly if they believe they have been the victim of disability discrimination, as there are strict time limits for filing a complaint with the DCR or bringing a lawsuit. Employees should also be aware that they may be able to file a disability discrimination claim under both the NJLAD and the ADA, as both laws protect against disability discrimination in the workplace.

Overall, the NJLAD is a powerful tool for protecting the rights of employees with disabilities in the workplace. If you believe that you have been the victim of disability discrimination in the workplace, it is crucial to speak with an experienced New Jersey employment discrimination attorney such as the ones at Risman & Risman, P.C., who can advise you of your rights and help you take the necessary steps to seek justice.

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