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Saving Your Job

Private Disability NY – NY State Disability

When confronted with an NY state disability, one of your first concerns is preserving your job. There are several issues that should be considered.

QShould I tell my employer about my disability?

Many individuals with serious disability face the same issue. Should I tell my employer about my disability?  This is a very personal question with no right answer.   There are, however, certain legal issues with a NY state disability that should be considered before making this important decision. A NY state disability lawyer will be able to help you confront this decision with the right legal issues resolved.

Most individuals are reluctant to tell their employers about a serious disability because they fear that this could jeopardize their future and will affect how others view them at the workplace.  These are very real concerns.  Many disabled individuals could attest to the fact that they have been discriminated against on the job once their employers found out that they had a serious illness or disability. However, by not telling your employer, you could jeopardize your future at your employer.  A NY state disability lawyer says that The American With Disabilities Act (ADA) only provides legal protection if the employer knows that you have a disability.  If your illness adversely affects your job performance, and your employer does not know that you are disabled, then you face the possibility of being fired with no legal recourse.

QWhat kind of accommodations must my employer provide?

By telling your employer about your disability, you are in a position to request that certain reasonable accommodations be made to your job.  Under the ADA, says a NY state disability lawyer, your employer must provide accommodations that enable you to perform the essential functions of your job, unless to do so would cause an undue hardship on your employer.

What is an undue hardship varies greatly given the size and financial resources of your company.  The Microsofts and Citibanks of the world are expected to incur greater costs than mom and pop businesses.

Some of the accommodations that could be requested include: modifying your work schedule; altering some of the nonessential duties of your job; changing your physical workspace; providing special equipment; and providing an assistant. A NY state disability lawyer will be able to help you identify the variety of accommodations that are available to you due to your disability.

Please note that the ADA only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.  However, individuals working for smaller companies may be entitled to similar protections under State and local laws.

QHow do I request an accommodation from my employer?

Before telling your employer about your disability, you should speak with your doctor.  You must ask your doctor if there are accommodations that could be made to your job that would enable you to continue to work without jeopardizing your health.  If the answer is yes, a note from your doctor is an essential ingredient to obtaining an accommodation. A NY state disability lawyer can help you identify other ingredients that may be necessary to obtain an employer accommodation.

Once you decide that you are going to tell your employer and ask for an accommodation, you have to find out your company’s application procedure.  There may be forms for both you and your doctor to fill out.  These generally may be obtained from your company’s human resources department. These forms should be filled out completely and thoroughly.  The last thing you need is a denial based on failing to complete the forms properly. Plus, the expertise and representation of a NY state disability lawyer will be essential to your application process.

QWhat happens if my disability is so severe it cannot be accommodated?

If you cannot perform the duties of your job even with an accommodation, your employer can generally fire you.  The protections of the ADA only apply to individuals who can perform the duties of their job, with or without an accommodation.

If you cannot perform the duties of your job, then you should carefully review your company’s short term and long term disability plans.  Please be aware that employers are not required by law to have long term disability plans and that many employers do not have them, says a NY state disability lawyer.

QWhat happens if I will be disabled only for a short time?

If you cannot perform the duties of your job on a short term basis, a NY state disability lawyer will tell you that there are certain benefits mandated by federal law.  There are also some benefits that may be mandated under the law of your State, or which you are entitled to as an employee benefit by your company. A NY state disability lawyer will be able to provide greater legal context as to what is entitled to you under these benefits.

The first thing you should do is read your company’s employee handbook and consult with your company’s human resources department.  The handbook and human resources department will be able to tell you if you have any accrued sick and/or vacation days that could be used on a short term basis.

If you will be out of work for a longer period, many companies have short term disability plans, which will provide you with all or a portion of your pay for a stated period.  Most cover the first six months of disability.  If your company does not have a short term disability plan, many states mandate that your employer subscribe to a State disability program covering the first six months of disability, says a NY state disability lawyer.  Under this program, you will be paid a weekly benefit.  The amount is set by State law.  You can obtain the required application forms from your human resources department.

You will be required to submit periodic proof of disability (e.g., a note or form from your doctor). A NY state disability lawyer will be able to help you decipher the legal requirements involved in submitting this proof.

If you will be out of work for an extended period (up to 12 weeks), then you may be entitled to job protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  If you have worked for at least a year at a company with 50 or more employees and have a serious health condition, you are entitled to request a medical leave of up to 12 weeks.  During this medical leave, your employer must guarantee your job or provide you with an equivalent job when you return.

The FMLA does not require that an employer pay you during a medical leave, but an employer may do so as a matter of company policy.  Check your employee handbook to determine how your company handles paid and unpaid leave.  A NY state disability attorney will say that the FMLA does, however, require an employer to provide you with the same employee benefits that you were entitled to receive prior to your medical leave.

To obtain a medical leave under the FMLA, an employee must request it in advance. Contact your human resources department for the appropriate forms.  A 12-week medical leave under the FMLA can be requested once during every 12-month period.  It is also possible to take your 12-week leave on an intermittent basis, e.g. one or two days per week.  This could be very helpful if you require periodic medical treatments on an ongoing basis.

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