New York City’s New Requirements for Workplace Accommodations

ADA wheelchair

Effective October 15, 2018, employers in New York City will be subject to broader accommodation requirements than those set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). A recent amendment to the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) requires employers to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with an individual who is or may be entitled to an accommodation.

The NYCHRL applies to employers with four or more employees, and under the new amendment, employers are required to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with an individual who has requested an accommodation or who the employer has notice may require an accommodation. This cooperative dialogue entails “a good faith written or oral dialogue concerning the person’s accommodation needs; potential accommodations that may address the person’s accommodation needs, including alternatives to a requested accommodation; and the difficulties that such potential accommodations may pose for the covered entity.” Employers are required to engage in this cooperative dialogue with regard to accommodations for: 1) religious needs; 2) disabilities; 3) pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition; and 4) for needs relating to domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking.

Ultimately, this cooperative dialogue is similar to the interactive process required under the ADA. However, the amendment imposes an additional requirement on employers once a determination has been reached—following the conclusion of the cooperative dialogue, the employer is required to provide a written final determination setting forth any accommodation granted or denied.

To prepare for implementation of the new law, employers—even those familiar with the processes required under the ADA—should review their policies to ensure compliance with the NYCHRL’s new provisions. Specifically, employers should be cognizant of the requirement to provide an individual with a written final determination, and that the necessity for a cooperative dialogue extends beyond accommodations related to disabilities.

The language of the amendment to the NYCHRL can be found here.