New York City has made a change to it’s Human Rights Law, that is broader than the existing federal requirements under Title I of the ADA. The new law requires businesses to engage in “cooperative dialogue” with individuals with disabilities and other protected categories in the context of employment, housing and public accommodations.
For employers in New York City, it is important to take note. This amendment make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to fail to engage in “cooperative dialogue,” which is defined as written or oral dialogue concerning a persons accommodation needs, the individuals requested accommodation and alternatives, and the difficulties that potential accommodations may pose for the business. The determination on accommodation must be made within a reasonable time. Lastly and most significantly, the employer must provide a written final determination identifying any accommodation that is granted or denied.
For employment purposes, employers are required to engage with their employees in cooperative dialogue with anyone seeking disability accommodation, religious accommodation, pregnancy related accommodations, and anyone that is a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking. This amendment has brought about a whole new need for training for both managerial and human resource personnel. They need to know how to properly respond these accommodation request, including identifying possible solutions, relating with employees who are requesting and ultimately documenting what is decided.
As laws continue to change around country as it pertains to hiring and employee rights, it is important that businesses revisit their policies and procedures to ensure they are up to date, and that their training programs effectively take into account these new types of laws and requests.