social roles

EEOC Files First ADA Reasonable Accommodation Lawsuit Related To COVID-19 And Working

[ad_1]

United States:

EEOC Files First ADA Reasonable Accommodation Lawsuit Related To COVID-19 And Working From Home

To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has long
taken the position that an employer must allow an employee with an
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covered disability to work
from home as a reasonable accommodation if the essential job
functions can be effectively performed at home, and working from
home will not cause undue hardship. Some jobs, naturally, cannot be
performed at home, e.g., assembly-line worker, waiter,
cashier, etc.

In what is sure to be a closely watched case, the EEOC recently
filed its first ADA pandemic-related lawsuit relating to COVID-19
and an employee’s request to work from home. The EEOC claims
that ISS Facility Services, Inc. (“the Company”), a
workplace experience and facility management company, unlawfully
denied an employee’s reasonable request for an accommodation
for her disability and then fired her because of her disability and
in retaliation for requesting an accommodation. In a press release announcing the lawsuit, the EEOC
stated, “[d]enying a reasonable accommodation and terminating
an employee because of her disability clearly violates the ADA at
any time. In light of the additional risks to health and safety
created by COVID-19, it is particularly concerning that an employer
would take this action several months into a global
pandemic.”

According to the lawsuit, the employee, who has chronic
obstructive lung disease and other physical impairments, worked as
a Health, Safety & Environmental Quality Manager at a company
facility in Social Circle, Georgia. Beginning in March 2020 and
through June 1, 2020, the Company required all of its employees to
work remotely four days per week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning June 1, 2020, the Company required all employees to
return to working five days per week. The employee then requested
an accommodation to work from home two days per week and to take
frequent breaks while working onsite due to her pulmonary
condition, which made her high-risk for contracting COVID-19.
Although the Company allowed others in the same position to work
from home, it denied the employee’s request and, shortly
thereafter, fired her.  

Generally, an employer is not required to provide an employee
with the specific accommodation requested, but may offer
alternative accommodations, so long as the accommodation provided
is effective, which should be discussed during the ADA interactive
process to determine whether there are alternatives to, for
example, working from home, e.g., proper social
distancing. Unless a job indisputably cannot be performed at home,
employers should engage in the ADA interactive process to determine
whether working from home is a reasonable accommodation that does
not pose undue hardship, and whether any alternative accommodations
would be effective.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated in many instances that
certain positions not previously seen as remote positions can be
effectively performed at home, creating a renewed focus on and need
to reassess the reasonableness of such requests. Employers managing
such requests should consult with their employment counsel for
guidance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

POPULAR ARTICLES ON: Employment and HR from United States

[ad_2]

Read More:EEOC Files First ADA Reasonable Accommodation Lawsuit Related To COVID-19 And Working