Requests for Reasonable Accommodation

The New York City Council passed an amendment to the New York City Administrative Code requiring employers covered by the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), including the Research Foundation of CUNY (RFCUNY), to engage in a “cooperative dialogue” with employees and applicants who may be entitled to reasonable accommodations.

The NYCHRL requires covered employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees, related to:

  • Religious needs;
  • Disabilities;
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions; and
  • Needs related to status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking.

Under the NYCHRL, an accommodation is reasonable if it does not cause an undue hardship in the conduct of the covered entity’s business.

The amendment effectively codifies the interactive process requirement in the NYCHRL. It requires employers to engage in a good faith “cooperative dialogue” when an employee requests an accommodation or the employer has notice that the employee may require an accommodation.

The cooperative dialogue may be conducted orally or in writing and must be conducted within a reasonable time after the employee requests an accommodation or the manager/supervisor has notice that the employee may require an accommodation.

A cooperate dialogue must address:

  1. the employee’s accommodation needs;
  2. potential accommodations that may address those needs (including alternatives to the accommodation requested by the employee); and
  3. the difficulties that potential accommodations may pose to your project/program.

After engaging in the cooperative dialogue with an employee, the manager or supervisor must provide the employee with a final written determination identifying any accommodation granted or denied. A determination that no reasonable accommodation is available cannot be made until after the manager or supervisor has engaged, or attempted to engage, in a cooperative dialogue with the employee.

The amendment makes it an unlawful discriminatory practice under the NYCHRL for an employer to refuse or fail to timely engage in a cooperative dialogue, or to fail to provide a written determination of a request for accommodation.

Responding to Requests for Reasonable Accommodation

Supervisors who receive a request for reasonable accommodation should have the employee complete a Request for Reasonable Accommodation form. The next step should be to contact RFCUNY’s Department of Human Resources for guidance before taking further action.

Other Considerations

The amendment is effective on October 15, 2018.

Essential Forms

Employment & Rehiring Forms


Human Resources


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