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Common issues in disability discrimination suits need addressed

If you’ve suffered an injury or an illness that leaves you with some limitations, you have a right to have those limitations accommodated — as long as you can still do the job you’re expected to do.

For example, if you develop lymphatic syndrome that causes swelling in your legs and requires you to keep your feet elevated, there’s no reason you can’t continue to work your desk job with a footstool tucked beneath your desk.

While that’s a fairly simple example, the basic idea is the same — no matter what your profession or what the accommodation.

Some employers, however, don’t want to make any accommodations and will try to find a pretext to fire a newly disabled employee — or just flatly insist that the accommodations are too burdensome to be permitted.

For example, a New Jersey nurse has a discrimination case slowly making its way through the court system now that the state’s Supreme Court has given permission for the case to continue.

After a series of injuries, the nurse was told she was able to resume work with some restrictions. Her employers said those restrictions couldn’t be accommodated and would prevent her from doing essential duties. They fired her and she filed a discrimination suit under New Jersey’s disability laws.

Three common issues are in dispute:

  1. What duties are actually “essential” to the nurse’s job (and not something that could be easily passed off to someone else or regarded as add-on tasks that aren’t really part of the job description)?
  2. Are reasonable accommodations that would allow her to keep working possible (or is the hospital trying to take the easy way out)?
  3. Would her condition put her (and possibly her patients) at risk of unnecessary injuries (in which case, the hospital is justified in keeping her from working)?

These are the sort of questions that every person who files a disability discrimination case based on the lack of reasonable accommodation should be prepared to answer. It’s important to work with your attorney to make certain that you can easily answer these questions when asked in a deposition or court.

For more information on how our firm approaches workplace discrimination cases and might be able to help you, please visit our page.

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