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NJLAD disability claim allows employers to demand medical information

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with handicaps. Employees who want accommodations have to let their employers know. That notification triggers an interactive process to determine the employee’s limitations and potential accommodations.

Naturally, employers can’t be expected to decide on accommodations if they don’t have relevant medical or other information as a starting point. Employers can ask for—and employees who want accommodations must provide—updated medical information. Refusing to provide the information sinks an employee’s NJLAD claim.

Recent case: Ann Walker was one of several employees who joined together in a lawsuit against Bloomberg News. Walker added an NJLAD handicap discrimination claim to her part of the lawsuit.

Walker claimed that Bloomberg managers gave her demeaning work to perform and made her participate in a cold-call program aimed at getting more information from customers. Walker claimed to have an anxiety disorder that prevented her from making the calls. She asked to be excused as a reasonable accommodation.

Bloomberg News asked her for updated medical information to determine whether she had an NJLAD-covered handicap. She never provided it, but sued anyway. The court tossed out her claim, reasoning that an employer must have medical information to decide what’s a reasonable accommodation. (Srgo, et al., v. Bloomberg L.P., No. 05-731, DC NJ, 2008)

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