The NY Working Woman's Pocket Guide
Disability Discrimination and Accommodations
If you are working and have a disability, you don’t have to risk your health to stay at your job. Federal, state, and local laws guarantee you an explicit right to reasonable workplace accommodations so you can keep earning a paycheck when you need it most.
Am I covered?
If you have a disabling physical or mental impairment and work for, or are applying to work for, an employer in New York State, then you are covered.
You are also covered by the law if you are an independent contractor.*
*New York State law defines “non-employees” as contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace or who is an employee of such contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace.
What does disability discrimination look like?
Your employer cannot:
- Fire you or cut your hours when they find out you have a disabling physical or mental impairment.
- Force you to take leave because you have a disability, unless your disability actually prevents you from doing your job.
- Treat you differently from other co-workers just because you have a disability.
- Deny you fringe benefits that they offer to other employees.
If you are applying for a job, an employer cannot:
- Ask if you have a disability.
- Refuse to hire you because you have a disability.
What is a reasonable workplace accommodation?
If you have a disabling physical or mental impairment, even a temporary one, your employer has to make changes to your work duties or schedule if it will help you stay healthy on the job, unless it would be very difficult or expensive for them to do so. These changes are called “reasonable accommodations.”
What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?
- Light duty, help with lifting, or a temporary transfer to a less physically demanding position
- Changes to your workspace
- Occasional breaks to rest
- Modified work schedule
- Job restructuring
- Unpaid time off from work
How do I ask my employer for a reasonable accommodation?
You can request an accommodation directly from your employer. They are allowed to request a note from your healthcare provider to confirm that you need the accommodation (though you have a right for that information to be kept confidential).
What if I am transgender and undergoing medical treatment to transition?
Your employer must provide you with reasonable accommodations if you are transgender and undergoing medical treatment to transition. Moreover, your employer cannot discriminate against you for health needs related to transitioning.
A couple additional notes:
- These laws apply to you regardless of your immigration or citizenship status.
- The information listed in this section does not constitute legal advice. It is always advisable to consult with an attorney about your individual circumstances if you have questions or think your rights as a worker have been violated.