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EEOC and COVID ADA Accommodations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against a company for denying an Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation request from an immuno-compromised employee who wanted to work from home for a couple days a week and wanted frequent breaks while in the office.

[Paritial Excerpt]:

So we're going to talk about in another video the recent directive from President Biden to OSHA about vaccinations and vaccination mandates for larger employers. But while all of that is happening our good friends at the EEOC have started to get busy filing lawsuits. So the particular lawsuit that we're going to be talking about is recently filed and everything that I'm going to talk about here, these are allegations only. I'm not saying that they've been proven, I'm not saying that they're true, only that the EEOC has alleged these things in a lawsuit. 

Now let me be honest, the EEOC is not going to go out and risk its time, reputation and money on something that is not fairly well established or that's not going to provide a great deal of guidance. So the suit deals with a company that from March 2020 to June 2020 because of the COVID pandemic, they had people working remotely four days a week. And then sometime in June 2020 they reopened, this employer reopened their facility and started requiring people to come back to work. 

An immunocompromised employee asked for an accommodation, so this was an accommodation because this employee has some sort of condition that rendered them immunocompromised. And the accommodation that the employee asked for was to work remotely two days a week and to take frequent breaks while working on-site. So the employer had directed everybody to come back into the office and then this employee asked to work remotely two days a week and take lots of breaks while on-site. So the employee was not saying I'm not going to work on-site, they were saying I just need this little accommodation. 

So what had happened was that it's alleged that the company denied the accommodation request even though it allegedly allowed other employees working on the same position or in the same kinds of conditions to work from home. And then the EEOC alleged that the company fired this employee for making the accommodation request. 

Okay, so what does all of this mean? Well, there are a couple of points that I want to make. First, if you are going to allow people to work from home you have to pretty much allow everybody who's similarly situated to do so as well. 

[End Excerpt]

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