Changes To Reasonable Accommodations In Light Of COVID-19

As more businesses open up nationwide and more employees return to work, so too does the number of reasonable accommodation requests made by disabled employees. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees with disabilities are allowed to ask their employers for reasonable accommodations that will allow them to carry out their duties in the same capacity as their able-bodied counterparts. Such accommodations usually include the use of special equipment, adapted working hours and more. Following the onset of the pandemic, a range of reasonable accommodations related to COVID-19 have started to pop up from employees with mental health conditions and physical disabilities. 

Employers’ Obligations Under the ADA

Under the ADA, the employer is required to enter into an interactive discussion with the employee in granting or refusing a reasonable accommodation. Information may be requested from the employee’s healthcare provider if necessary. Employers are not obliged to grant reasonable accommodations if they will cause a burden or pose a threat to the employee, coworkers or other involved parties. If you believe that you have been denied a reasonable accommodation or experienced disability discrimination in any form, you may want to turn to an experienced attorney for legal advice.

Who is Covered Under the ADA?

Post COVID-19, many employees may have concerns about getting infected at work, even if they are able-bodied. Employers are not obliged to make accommodations such as additional unpaid leave or different shifts for able-bodied employees who are simply uneasy about returning to work. Employees with mental health conditions such as anxiety may experience greater stress about returning to work, and employers should work with them to allow reasonable accommodations where possible.

However, simply falling into a higher risk group for contracting COVID-19 does not automatically qualify an employee for reasonable accommodation. For instance, seniors above 65 fall in a higher risk group, however age is not considered a disability hence employers are not obliged to make reasonable accommodation on that basis. The exception is if the employee suffers from a disability associated with their age. Similar for employees with family members who belong to a high risk group – the ADA does not allow for discriminatory treatment towards these employees, but they are not entitled to reasonable accommodations on behalf of their family members either. 

Although pregnancy does not normally count as a disability under the ADA, pregnant employees may be granted reasonable accommodations under the ADA or the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. 

Carcich O’Shea Will Listen to Your Reasonable Accommodation Claim

If you have a disability that requires reasonable accommodation to make returning to work safe and your employer refuses to grant it, you may have a legal case. At Carcich O’Shea, we understand the distress that can come with worrying about contracting the virus and having to support yourself and your family. If you have been the target of disability discrimination, our experienced attorneys specialize in employment law and business litigation and will advocate tirelessly on your behalf. Amidst the stress of COVID-19, you should not have to worry about your financial stability as well. Please contact us today if you have a coronavirus related workplace claim to file.

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