The Changes To The American With Disabilities Act Due To COVID-19 In New Jersey

Under normal circumstances, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from carrying out medical inquiries or conducting medical examinations at work. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we do things and some of the restrictions under the ADA have had to be relaxed. In this article, we explain the precautions employers are now allowed to take as well as the accommodations they are recommended to make.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Employers are now allowed to ask employees who call in sick whether they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 such as a fever, cold, sore throat, or persistent coughing. Additionally, employees who show up to work despite displaying any of the above symptoms can be denied entry and asked to return home.

Precautions 

In workplaces where remote working is not possible such as supermarkets and fast food chains, employers can put in place a mandatory temperature taking exercise before an employee is allowed to start work. As an employer, it is important that this is carried out in a consistent manner so that no one employee or group of employees are singled out, giving rise to a potential discrimination claim. It is important to note that temperature taking is not foolproof as many COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic.

Employer Obligations 

Under the ADA, employers are required to make reasonable accommodation, wherever possible, for vulnerable employees to carry out essential job functions. Employees with a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 include elderly employees, those who are immunocompromised as well as those who suffer from a pre-existing condition such as diabetes or asthma. Such employees may have concerns about returning to work in a physical location with high human traffic. Employers should work with these employees to see if an alternative arrangement such as additional leave or working remotely is possible.

Furthermore, if an employer chooses to perform medical inquires and/or examinations, it is important that this information be is stored properly and treated as strictly confidential. Employers also need to ensure that any decisions they make that will affect their employees are based on objective scientific and medical evidence from authorized sources. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one such reliable source. Decisions made out of unrationalized fear or stereotypes can result in discrimination claims, which can be easily avoided with a little research.

Turn to Carcich O’Shea For Representation

If you think you have suffered unfairly as a result of changes to the ADA, you may have a case for disability discrimination in the workplace. Amidst the uproar of the pandemic, it may seem like your case is trivial, however, be rest assured that we understand the impact it can have on both your health and emotional wellbeing. At Carcich O’Shea, LLC, we listen because you deserve to be heard. We are well-versed in the latest changes to the ADA and will see to it that your rights are fairly represented.

Contact us today if you would like to discuss what can be done to ensure you are treated fairly under the ADA.

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