Limping employee not ensured NJLAD protection

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

You know that you can run into trouble if you treat someone as disabled when they are not. But you’re not in violation of the “perceiving as disabled” provisions of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) every time you notice an employee has a physical problem.

Recent case: When secretary Sharon Garrett broke her ankle, she took FMLA leave to have surgery and recuperate. Garrett showed up for a meeting to discuss her return and, according to her supervisor, “was limping badly.”

When Garrett was subsequently terminated, she sued under NJLAD, claiming her supervisor had perceived her as handicapped.

The court disagreed. Although her supervisor saw the limp, that didn’t mean the supervisor thought she couldn’t do her secretarial job. It dismissed Garrett’s case. (Garrett v. Atlanticare, No. 07-5416, DC NJ, 2009)

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