Interplay Between The Workers’ Compensation Act & Law Against Discrimination
On March 25, 2019, the New Jersey Supreme Court analyzed the interplay between the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) and the Law Against Discrimination (LAD) in Carabello vs. City of Jersey City Police Dept. The plaintiff, Frank Carabello, was employed as a detective for the Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) when he was involved in a motor vehicle accident at work which caused chronic injuries to his knees, ultimately necessitating a total knee replacement. Although medical experts agreed that a knee replacement was warranted and related to the motor vehicle accident, Carabello failed to exhaust his remedies under the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) by filing a Motion for Medical Treatment. It appears that Carabello never wanted the surgery. Rather, he requested accommodation from his employer for his disability. He was eventually discharged by the police department due to his inability to perform the essential functions of his job due to his injuries. Carabello then sued his employer, alleging that the JCPD’s failure to authorize the knee surgery constituted a failure to reasonable accommodation his disability under the LAD. The Court ruled that an employee’s failure to pursue a remedy in the Division of Workers’ Compensation precluded him from maintaining a claim against his employer for failure to accommodate his disability under the LAD. Moral of the story is that if an employee is injured at work, he must exhaust his administrative remedies by fighting for medical treatment in the Division of Workers’ Compensation before he has the right to complain that the employer is not accommodating a disability. Read More
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