New York Appellate Division Overturned Grant of Summary Judgment to Emblem Health Services on Disability Discrimination Claims Brought Under New York City Human Rights Law

In Watson v Emblem Health Servs., the Appellate Division First Department overturned the lower court's decision to grant summary judgment to the employer on their disability discrimination claim under the New York City Human Rights Law. In that case, the court held: "giving plaintiff the benefit of all favorable inferences which may reasonably be drawn, we conclude that she proffered sufficient evidence to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the reason put forth by defendant for terminating her employment was merely pretextual and that the grant of summary judgment in defendant's favor was not warranted." In this case, the employer asserted that it terminated the employee while she was on medical leave recovering from a brain tumor…

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Failure to Engage in Interactive Process Forecloses Summary Judgment for Employer Under New York City Human Rights Law Claims, Court Says

The New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the State of New York, held in Jacobsen v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp. that any "impairment" constitutes a disability under City HRL, and the burden is on employer, not employee, to show unavailability of accommodation and to show accommodation would pose an undue hardship on employer. Further the court held that summary judgment for an employer is foreclosed where employer fails to engage in interactive process in respect to requested accommodation. But, employer’s failure to engage in interactive process does not compel finding in favor of employee on summary judgment. Rather, ”that failure poses a formidable obstacle to the employer’s attempt to prove that no reasonable accommodation existed…

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