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Thursday, 31 October 2013 21:25

NJ Says ‘Indefinite Leave Not Reasonable Accomodation’

In Bourhill v. Nextel of New York, Inc., 2013 WL 1680140 (D.N.J. Apr. 17, 2013), an employee with a back condition was granted several consecutive leaves of absences (spanning eight months of leave), followed by an open-ended request for “at least two months” of leave. He was discharged following the last request, and filed disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and wrongful discharge claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD).

Rejecting the plaintiff’s case at summary judgment, the New Jersey District Court held that by the time of the termination, the employer had already taken “significant actions to accommodate the plaintiff.” Moreover, as of the time of the plaintiff’s discharge, it was unclear when, or even if, the plaintiff would recover from his impairments and return to work, and the plaintiff and/or his physician incorrectly predicted an estimated return date on each prior occasion.

In summary, “at a certain point, holding a job open for an extensive or indeterminate period of time becomes unreasonable.”

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