LaCourt v. Shenanigans Knits, Ltd., No. 102391/11 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., N.Y. Cty., Nov. 14, 2012): While still employed by defendants, the plaintiff informed her supervisor of her recent breast cancer diagnosis and her decision to undergo a double mastectomy. Prior to her scheduled surgery date, the plaintiff met with the company’s president, who informed her that the company was discharging her because of the significant recovery time required for her surgery and the importance of her position. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging disability discrimination in violation of the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. The defendants moved for summary judgment and argued that the plaintiff could not perform the essential functions of her job because she planned to be absent from work for more than three months. The court rejected this argument and held that the defendants had ignored their legal obligation to consider a reasonable accommodation and to engage in the interactive process. While the court recognized that an employer is not required to hold a position open indefinitely, it held that a temporary leave of absence, even an extended leave, can be a reasonable accommodation. Here, defendants did not engage in the interactive process at all and ultimately failed to establish that they would have suffered an undue hardship by granting the plaintiff a three-month leave of absence. This case reiterates that, while an extended leave of absence may pose an undue hardship for some positions, employers must engage in the interactive process and consider the feasibility of such an accommodation on a case-by-case basis prior to outright rejecting an extended leave request.
The plaintiff, a landscaper at the defendant’s New Jersey facility, was terminated after he failed a random drug test administered to all employees in safety-sensitive positions. The plaintiff sued his employer claiming that the random testing policy violated the New Jersey Constitution’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.
On January 26, 2022, amendments to New York’s whistleblower protection law, codified at section 740 of the New York Labor Law (NYLL), took effect. As we previously reported, these amendments significantly expand the scope of section 740. Although New York employers that also operate in states with expansive private-sector whistleblower protection laws, such as New Jersey, Oregon, or Virginia, may not need to make significant adjustments, other employers may wish to consider updating their policies; implementing or enhancing support structures, including robust and accessible reporting mechanisms and regular training for supervisors, managers, and human resources professionals; and identifying appropriate resources for investigating complaints.
With divided government in Washington relegating most congressional labor and employment legislation to the dead letter file, state legislation becomes a more viable option for interest groups to press their initiatives. The only caveat—be careful what you wish for! The tables may be turned, and suddenly you are on the…..