In December 2017, by a vote of 48 to 2, the New York City Council passed by a vote of 48-2 Local Law No. 59 (2018), amending the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) by creating an independent cause of action against employers who fail to engage in the interactive process to determine if an accommodation of an eligible employee is needed. In other words, an employer may not “refuse or otherwise fail to engage in a cooperative dialogue within a reasonable time with a person who has requested an accommodation or who the covered entity has notice may require such an accommodation,” whether related to a disability, religious practices, pregnancy or childbirth, or needs as a victim of domestic violence. The law went into effect on October 15, 2018.
The term “cooperative dialogue” means the process by which a covered entity and an employee who may be entitled to an accommodation engage in good faith dialogue (written or verbal) concerning an employee’s accommodation needs. This dialogue may include any of the following: potential accommodations that may address the employee’s accommodation needs, including alternatives to a requested accommodation; and the difficulties that such potential accommodations may pose for the covered entity.