Leave-Of-Absence accommodation and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination

Q. I have an employee who has a handicap, as that term is broadly defined under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). It would not qualify as a disability under the ADA. I know that a reasonable accommodation under the ADA can include a short leave of absence. In the absence of an ADA disability, do I have to provide a leave of absence as an accommodation for a handicap under NJLAD?

A.  Yes. In 2006, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights adopted regulations that clarify that a leave of absence may be a possible accommodation under the NJLAD. The division determines on a case-by-case basis whether an employer has failed to make a reasonable accommodation.

To deny leave as an accommodation, an employer will have to prove that under the circumstances, the accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. This rarely is an easy standard to meet.

Other examples of reasonable accommodations include job restructuring, modified work schedule, job reassignment and providing alternative equipment or devices.