Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the EEOC has provided guidance to employers on how the federal anti-discrimination laws interact with COVID-19. This guidance, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and Other EEO Laws, was revised multiple times to account for changing circumstances and, now with the declared end of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the EEOC has updated it once more. The revisions remind employers that, although the declared emergency may be over, COVID-19 still has a workplace impact that lingers on.Continue Reading Employers Beware: The End of the COVID-19 Emergency Does Not Mean The End of the EEOC’s COVID-19 Guidance
So many EEOC lawsuits – so many lessons… Some recent announcements from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (which is the federal agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws) provide some lessons for employers on possible reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act – specifically, when such accommodations already exist for the employee in question or their co-workers.Continue Reading Don’t Deny a Reasonable Accommodation that Exists – Really!
So awhile back, I wrote a blog post about DC laws that were passed but not implemented. But we just ran into the opposite issue – apparently DC has implemented a law that doesn’t – technically – exist! Let me explain.
Continue Reading Wait – But the Disability Law Doesn’t Actually Say That!
I know we’re all tired of COVID-19, and many of us are just pretending that life has returned to normal. But, just as the darned variants continue to evolve, so does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s What You Should Know About COVID and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws guidance. This week, the EEOC updated a number of its Q&As, with some more targeted guidance for employers. Of particular interest (at least to this management-side attorney) are the newly-identified factors that employers should consider to establish a business-necessity for viral testing and those that are relevant to the direct threat assessment. Here’s our summary of most of the updated questions:
Continue Reading The EEOC Updates Its COVID Guidance for Employers – Testing, Accommodations, Direct Threat and More
Have you read the warnings on prescription painkillers? They can be pretty scary – “May cause drowsiness.” “May cause dizziness.” “Do not operate a car or dangerous machinery.” (Or words to that effect). I think by now, everyone is aware of the risks associated with controlled substances. Certainly, the opioid epidemic did not earn its name lightly. So it’s not surprising that some employers are concerned when employees take prescription medications that come with those warnings – particularly when those employees are working with heavy machinery or sharp objects, or getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. But it is important for employers to understand when they can – and cannot – prohibit employees on such medications from working.
Continue Reading Employers – Don’t Automatically Assume Prescription Meds Pose a Danger in the Workplace
When considering a request for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, many employers focus on what will enable an employee to perform the essential functions of their job. But the reasonable accommodation obligation is actually broader than that. As set forth in the EEOC’s regulations, employers must also provide reasonable accommodations that enable an employee with a disability “to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.” And this encompasses certain activity outside the workplace – such as parking.
Continue Reading Reasonable Accommodations Don’t Just Start at the Office Door…
In the latest entry in our series on extraordinary workplace misconduct, we must come to terms with the fact that not everyone loves birthdays or surprises. And, when an employee tells you that they don’t want a surprise birthday party, you’d best oblige them or you could face a discrimination suit and a nearly half a million-dollar jury verdict!
As the Washington Post, New York Times, and our Twitter scrolling reported, a Kentucky-based medical laboratory, Gravity Diagnostics, was found liable by a jury for disability discrimination when it fired an employee who suffered from an anxiety disorder that caused panic attacks. As a result, the jury awarded $450,000 in damages for lost wages and emotional distress. However, it’s the series of events that prompted the employer’s actions that are truly extraordinary.Continue Reading Extraordinary Workplace Misconduct: Celebrating you is a piece of cake…
A COVID-19 infection, in and of itself, is not necessarily a disability that triggers employee rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act – but there are circumstances when it can be, including for individuals experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 (a condition with many names, such as “long COVID,” “post-COVID,” “long-haul COVID,” “post-acute COVID-19,” “long-term effects of COVID,” or “chronic COVID”). The EEOC has now updated its COVID-19 Guidance to provide clarification on this issue for employers.
Continue Reading When Is COVID-19 a Disability? The EEOC Speaks
On October 25, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its guidance document, What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, to address religious objections to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In a new section to the guidance, the EEOC draws upon previously-existing guidance for religious exemptions generally. While there are no real surprises, the collection of information in the guidance document is helpful.
Continue Reading EEOC Issues Guidance On Religious Exemptions to COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements
And I’m pretty darned sure that many employers feel the same way. This issue has been coming up a lot lately with the burgeoning requests for medical exemptions in the context of COVID-19 vaccine mandates. TO BE CLEAR, I am NOT questioning those employees with actual medical conditions that legitimately prevent them from getting a vaccine – I’m talking about those folks who just don’t want the shot, and get their doctors to write some nonsense note that has no actual basis in medical fact. And frankly, this has been an issue generally beyond the vaccine. (It even showed up in my recent blog post about the employee who wanted to bring his dog to work). So what can we do?
Continue Reading I’m Tired of Doctors Who Just Say Whatever the Employee Wants…