On October 15, 2018, the New York City Human Rights Law (CHRL) was amended to require employers to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with individuals who may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the CHRL.
Whereas federal and state laws require an “interactive process” to determine a reasonable accommodation, the CHRL requires that employers go one step further – employers must engage in a good faith written or oral dialogue concerning:
- The person’s accommodation needs
- Potential accommodations that may address the person’s accommodation needs, including alternatives to a requested accommodation, and
- The difficulties that such potential accommodations may pose for the employer.
Employers must engage in this process for reasonable accommodation requests due to a disability, pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, for religious needs, or for the needs of a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses or stalking, as long as the requested accommodations would not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer. This requirement applies to initial requests made orally or in writing, or about which the employer should have known.
Most importantly, this law requires that the employer issue a final written determination to the requesting employee that identifies any accommodation granted or denied.
Employers should ensure that their employees are aware of their commitment to participating in the cooperative dialogue process, and that their human resources department, managers and supervisors abide by the new law.