February 12, 2021

An employer's duty to prevent an employee from committing suicide

This decision by the Appellate Division states that the Plaintiff in this action alleged  that the New York City Police Department [NYPD]  had knowledge of the state of its employee's [the Deceased] mental health and, instead of accommodating the Deceased's disability, assigned him to a position that would precipitate his death.  

Citing Jacobsen v New York City Health & Hosps. Corp., 22 NY3d 824, after setting out the events leading to the litigation, the decision concludes as follows:

 "In short, the NYPD's 'failure to reasonably accommodate [the Deceased's] disability as soon as [it knew] of that condition is the very societal ill which the relevant anti-discrimination statutes were designed to combat.

Continuing, the Appellate Division opined that "[t]he statutes recognize the employer's failure in that regard to be particularly invidious because it forces the worker either to quit his or her job in order to preserve the worker's health or else to continue working without adequate protective measures and then succumb to a debilitating impairment* ... [s]adly, here, [the deceased] succumbed to a debilitating impairment before he was properly accommodated.

The court, however, ruled that it was "unable to grant [the Deceased] any relief because [his] estate failed to invoke the very statute that was enacted to protect him."

* See Jacobsen at 843-844.

Click HEREto access the full text of the Appellate Division's decision


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