New York Medical Discrimination Attorney
To establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination under the New York State and City Human Rights laws, the plaintiff must show that she has a disability, that she was competent to perform her job, that she suffered an adverse employment action and that the circumstances of the termination give rise to an inference of discrimination. “Plaintiff’s burden to establish a prima facie case ‘is not onerous,’ and has been described as ‘minimal’.” Flores v. Buy Buy Baby, Inc., 118 F. Supp. 2d 425 (S.D.N.Y. 2000), citing Texas Dep’t. of Community Affairs v. Burdine, 450 U.S. 248, 253 (1981) and St. Mary’s Honor Ctr., 509 U.S. 502, 506 (1993). The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because of a disability. Matter of McEniry v. Landi, 84 N.Y.2d 554, 558 (1994) citing Executive Law § 296(1). § 296(1) defines “disability” as “a physical, mental or medical impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological or neurological conditions which prevents the exercise of a normal bodily function or is demonstrable by medically accepted clinical or laboratory diagnostic techniques.” Executive Law § 296(1) (emphasis added). Moreover, New York State’s highest court has ruled that “any medically diagnosable impairment” is a disability under the New York State Human Rights Law. See Reeves v. Johnson Controls, 140 F.3d 144, 154 (2d Cir. 1998). Additionally, the New York State Human Rights Law applies to “disabilities which, upon the provision of reasonable accommodations, do not prevent the [plaintiff] from performing in a reasonable manner the activities involved in the job or occupation…held.” Executive Law § 292(21). Furthermore, the New York City Human Rights Law disability standard is at least as broad as the State standard. New York City Administrative Code § 8-101 et seq.; Sacay v. Research Found., 44 F. Supp. 2d 496, 503 (EDNY 1999). An employee is not required to show that the impairment substantially limits the exercise of normal bodily functions. See Hezeldine v. Beverage Media, LTD, 954 F.Supp.697, 706 (S.D.N.Y. 1997); Anyna v. New York Life Insurance Co., 192 F.Supp.2d 228 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (Court finds that Plaintiff was disabled even though Plaintiff’s diabetes did not affect Plaintiff’s bodily functions); Doe v. Bell, 194 Misc.2d 774 (N.Y. Cty. Sup. Ct. 2003) (Plaintiff with gender identity disorder was held by Court to be disabled); Mullen v. City of New York, 2003 WL 21511952 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (Court held that Plaintiff with laryngitis was disabled under the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws). Indeed, disabilities under the New York State and New York City Human Rights Law range from those “involving the loss of bodily function to those that are merely diagnosable medical anomalies which impair bodily integrity and thus may lead to more serious conditions in the future.” See Delta Air Lines v. New York State Div. Of Human Rights, 91 N.Y.2d 65, 73 (1997) quoted in Augustin-Levy v. Jamaica Hospital, Index No.: 10272/06 (Rosengarten, J. Queens S. Ct. 4-19-07.) (emphasis added). Under the disability law’s regulatory scheme, employers and employees are supposed to engage in an “interactive process” to determine whether it is feasible to provide an accommodation for an employee’s disability. Brady v. Walmart, 2006 WL 2845692, citing Jackan v. New York State Dep’t of Labor, 205 F.3d 562, 566 (2d Cir.2000). A leave of absence is a form of reasonable accommodation. An employer must consider all possible accommodations including an extended leave of absence. Unlike the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, an employee may be entitled to an accommodation like a leave of absence, even if the employee has not worked for his or her employer for a year. Even if the employee has not made a specific request for an accommodation, courts have held that an employer has a duty to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability if the employer knew or reasonably should have known that the employee had a medical condition. Miloscia v. B.R. Guest Holdings LLC, 2011 WL 3804305 (N.Y.Sup.).
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