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NYC Council votes to outlaw retaliation against workers who ask for ‘reasonable accommodations’ for religion, medical issue or disability

2019-06-16

In this file photo, Jumaane D. Williams speaks at the New York City Finance Committee meeting Tuesday, March 26 2019 in Manhattan. (Barry Williams/for New York Daily News)

The New York City Council voted on Thursday to outlaw retaliation against workers who request “reasonable accommodations” for religious observance, disability, medical condition and more.

The city’s human rights law currently doesn’t specify such requests as a “protected” activity, so courts have denied claims from workers that they were punished after asking for reasonable accommodations.

The legislation from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams expanding the human right’s law to cover accommodations easily passed the Council. The de Blasio administration supports the bill.

“This is one of those bills where I thought it was crazy it didn’t exist,” Williams said before the vote. “There is case law where people were fired for asking for reasonable accommodation.”

Williams noted one 2006 case where an employee asked for additional leave time to accommodate disability and she was fired. In another 2015 case, a worker asked for accommodations after experiencing seizures five months after starting and was terminated, according to the public advocate.

“Employees should not be afraid about asking for reasonable accommodation to be more efficient workers,” Williams said.