The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C.A. 12101, and New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1, require employers make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. In a health care setting, particularly for employees with patient care duties, patient safety is a paramount concern which often curtails the disabled employee’s entitlement to accommodations. Courts struggle with determining what accommodations are reasonable and when a disabled employee poses a threat to patient safety such that no accommodation can be made. However, the trend heavily favors health care providers where patient safety is demonstrated to be a concern.
Under both the NJLAD and ADA, an employee must establish they can perform the essential functions of a job to establish a prima facie case of discrimination. Zive v. Stanley Roberts, Inc., 182 N.J. 436 (2005); Svarnas v. AT&T, 326 N.J. Super. 59, 73 (App. Div. 1999); Conshenti v. PSE&G, 364 F. 3d 135, 151 (3d Cir. 2004). In Anderson v. Exxon Co., U.S.A., 89 N.J. 483 (1982), the New Jersey Supreme Court explained:
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