ADA Reasonable Accommodation: COVID-19

Our Memphis Attorneys Explain Your Rights

The world has seen 4 influenza pandemics in the last century, but none have affected daily life quite as much as COVID-19, or the 2019 coronavirus disease. As such, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has updated its Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act guidance.

Even amid a pandemic, employees have rights, and employees with disabilities must be treated equally. If your employer violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you may pursue legal action.

At Donati Law, PLLC, we urge anyone who feels they have been treated unfairly to come forward. Our attorneys can explain all relevant laws and guidelines and how they have been adjusted for COVID-19. If appropriate, we can also help you file suit against your employer.

Call us at (901) 209-5500 today and tell us about your case.

What Is a Direct Threat?

Typically, an employer can sidestep certain ADA requirements if an employee poses a “direct threat” to the workplace. According to the EEOC, the 2019 coronavirus disease qualifies as a direct threat, which means employers may conduct certain medical examinations and ask certain questions that might not be allowed otherwise.

If an employee calls in sick, for example, the employer is allowed to ask about their symptoms. Similarly, if a worker has COVID-19 symptoms, the employer can ask them not to come into the office. If an applicant exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, their offer of employment can also be delayed or terminated.

Still, these kinds of questions and examinations must apply to all applicants and employees and cannot be discriminatory. Employers are still not allowed to ask disability-related questions. For instance, they cannot ask whether or not you have a compromised immune system or a chronic health condition that will increase your risk of contracting and suffering complications from COVID-19.

They can, however, ask if one of an equally weighted list of reasons will interfere with your work during the pandemic.

Can I Work From Home?

Yes. Working from home, or telework, is an effective infection-control strategy and a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. As long as your telework does not cause your employer undue hardship, you can ask to work from home. Due to current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and stay-at-home orders in certain states, your employer may even ask you to work from home, as workplaces around the country are closed.

If you had any special accommodations in the office, your employer should also provide these accommodations or alternatives to you at home.

Donati Law, PLCC can help you with any difficulties you may be facing.

What If I Can’t Work From Home?

For some jobs, working from home is not a reasonable accommodation because it does not allow you to fulfill the requirements of your occupation. When this is the case, you can ask for personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and masks.

Employers may also require employees to wear PPE, but they must provide reasonable accommodations for workers who cannot, for example, wear latex gloves or other PPE.

What If I Get Fired or Laid Off?

Many people are losing their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, your employer cannot terminate your employment or bar you from the workplace due to a disability, even if they are worried about the relationship between your condition and COVID-19.

While you can be barred from the workplace while exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, you should have access to sick leave during this time.

If any of this feels unclear, you can always talk your situation over with our Memphis reasonable accommodation lawyers.

Don’t Stand for Discrimination

During this largely unprecedented time, employment is not “business as usual.” Across the board, employees may have slightly less privacy and autonomy at work, as employers try to mitigate direct threats.

Regardless, you should never be treated differently or unfairly due to a disability. If you suffer disability discrimination or your employer refuses to make reasonable accommodations, call Donati Law, PLLC today. We have been protecting Memphis residents and the people of the Mid-South for more than 35 years, and we aren’t going to stop now.

For the protection and legal excellence you need, contact us at (901) 209-5500 or fill out our employment law questionnaire today.

Together, we can get through this.