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Disability Under the LAD: Does a Plaintiff Need an Expert Witness to Establish Disability?

Posted by Frank Steinberg | Dec 20, 2007 | 0 Comments

Yesterday we posted on Sarnowski v. Air Brooke Limousine for its important impact on notice requirements under the FMLA. 

Sarnowski also contains an important reminder about how plaintiff's can establish that they are disabled for purposes of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. 

The trial court had dismissed Sarnowski's disability claim because he had not offered testimony from an independent expert witness to establish that he was disabled within the meaning of the statute.  The Court of Appeals made short work of that decision, noting that in New Jersey disability can be established through the testimony of treating physicians and other competent medical evidence.  Sarnowski had presented plenty of evidence to establish that he was disabled, so the appeals court reinstated his disability claim.

Sarnowski v. Air Brooke reminds us that the NJ courts take a common sense approach on issues of disability and entitlement to medical leave.  Businesses that want to avoid problems in these areas will be sensitive to the judicial approach and will tailor their policies and procedures to accommodate them, rather than trying to to force upon their employees rigid and restrictive policies that are designed to reduce rights granted by law (or if if not designed to, have the effect of doing so).   

About the Author

Frank Steinberg

Frank is the founder and principal of Steinberg Law, LLC. A Jersey boy born and bred, he focuses on employment litigation and counseling, business litigation,  and aviation law. Following law school and a clerkship in the federal district court Frank spent his early career with large litigation ...


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