Appellate Division Affirms Dismissal of Suit Because Employer Responded to Most of the Employee’s Multiple Requests For Accommodation
Authors: Evan J. Shenkman (Morristown), Ryan T. Warden (Morristown)
Published Date: April 4, 2012
Zack v. State of New Jersey, 2012 WL 832611 (App. Div. Mar. 14, 2012): In a welcome result for employers that earnestly work to reasonably accommodate disabled employees, the Appellate Division has affirmed the dismissal of a former employee’s NJLAD disability claim because the employer diligently investigated the employee’s requests and implemented numerous accommodations that responded to most, if not all, of the employee’s specific needs. The employee, who suffered from post-concussion syndrome accompanied by a hypersensitivity to light and certain odors, requested her workstation be relocated and retrofitted to provide an optimum environment to accommodate her sensitivity to light. The employer granted these requests and had other co-workers adjust their work environment and personal grooming habits to accommodate the plaintiff’s sensitivity to perfumes. Although not every request by the employee was accommodated – they refused to raise the height of the employee’s cubicle to eight or nine feet (to reduce brightness of the overhead lights) – the Appellate Division held that the employer’s good faith efforts and interactions with the plaintiff were sufficient to defeat her claim that she was denied a reasonable accommodation.
Note: this article was published in the April 2012 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.
Evan J. Shenkman is a member of Ogletree Deakins’ Knowledge Management Department, serving as the firm’s Senior Knowledge Management Counsel and Research Manager. In his role, Mr. Shenkman is responsible creating processes, practices, and software to allow firm attorneys to work smarter, faster, and more in sync; creating internal and client-facing collaborative tools; and managing the firm's team of Knowledge Management Counsel and the firm's Legal Researchers. He also manages...
Ryan T. Warden defends employers against all types of employment-related claims, including allegations of discrimination, retaliation and harassment. Ryan is a member of the Firm’s Class Action Group and Wage and Hour Group and has extensive experience defending employers against class, collective and single plaintiff actions arising out of alleged violations of state and federal wage and hour laws. Ryan has defended clients in the retail, trucking and transportation and food service...