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In what may be a first of its kind decision in New York State, an upstate judge has granted a preliminary injunction requiring a public school district to reasonably accommodate a cafeteria worker who claims she should not be required to wash dishes because she suffers from a skin condition. Allegany County Supreme Court Justice Patrick H. Nemoyer’s decision in Gallman v. Friendship Central School District, 27616, is a graphic illustration of the scope of New York Human Rights Law vis-�-vis the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. Officials with the Civil Service Employees Association, a labor union that represents the worker, said the ruling marks the first time since New York Executive Law was amended to require reasonable accommodation that a judge has issued an order of this type. The matter involves a woman, Sharon Gallman, who had worked in the school cafeteria since 1986. Gallman claims to suffer from dermatitis and dyshidrosis, maladies which fall within the definition of disability under �292 of the New York Executive Law, but would not be covered under federal law. Until September 2000, Gallman’s duties included preparing food trays, making sandwiches and baking. Then, after the dishwasher resigned, Gallman was reassigned to dishwashing duty by her supervisor with the Board of Cooperative Education Services for Cattaraugus, Allegany, Erie and Wyoming Counties in New York. Gallman submitted a note from her treating dermatologist requesting that she be reassigned from dishwashing duties because of her alleged impairment. Instead, Gallman was ordered to take a medical leave of absence. Since March, the district has refused to allow Gallman to work unless she is able to perform the duties of a dishwasher. Attorneys with the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) brought an action under New York Human Rights Law contending that the district was illegally discriminating against Gallman by refusing to accommodate her disability. Justice Nemoyer granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the district to provide Gallman with the reasonable accommodation of assigning her cafeteria work other than dishwashing. CSEA attorney William A. Herbert said the Americans With Disabilities Act provided no avenue for relief since Gallman’s condition was not covered by the ADA. He said this marks the first time a judge has issued a preliminary injunction in a New York reasonable accommodation matter. Lynda M. Tarantino of Hodgson Russ in Buffalo, appearing for the Board of Cooperative Education Services, said BOCES had already agreed to the accommodation. “My client, BOCES, had agreed to the reassignment previously, before the suit was brought,” Tarantino said. “That is what we indicated to the judge when he asked for our position.” However, she said the district had ultimate authority on the duties Gallman would be assigned. Thomas P. Brown of Williams and Brown in Cuba, N.Y., represents the school district.

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