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COVID: A Hot-Button Topic for ADA Litigation



The coronavirus outbreak is has virtually upended the way we live, work, and interact with one another. “Work-from-home” and subsequent limited re-openings have required changes to employers’ everyday practices, impacting nearly all aspects of operations.


Businesses have been faced with an unprecedented challenge: how to maintain operations while keeping their workforce safe. Now that stay-at-home orders are being lifted, there will be increased scrutiny about any new return-to-work policies that are implemented. For example, requests to work remotely—and denials of those requests—have been a hot litigation topic under the Americans with Disabilities Act in recent years. We anticipate unique post-pandemic litigation to raise several employment law issues, including these issues related specifically to the ADA:

  1. How have accommodations to work remotely or alternative schedules during the pandemic impacted employers’ ability to grant (or deny) requests to alter work arrangements under the ADA in the future?

  2. When are employers entitled to make medical inquiries of their employees, whether to assess an employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the job or to determine if an employee presents a direct threat?

  3. What factors should employers consider when deciding the order of calling workers back? Is it appropriate to consider an employee’s health or requests for accommodation in restoring the workforce?

As we return to business as usual under the “new normal,” now is the time to carefully assess your response to COVID-19 and make informed and well-considered decisions moving forward. To minimize risk, review and update relevant policies, such as those that address attendance and work arrangements. Stay up-to-date on the latest agency guidance on workplace screening and return-to-work preparedness plans, keeping in mind that the employer bears the burden of ensuring ADA compliance.



Litigating for your interests

At the Law Office of Nolan Klein, we have represented clients in hundreds of Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") lawsuits, including the defense of businesses, covering claims of physical and online inaccessibility. Our goal is to resolve ADA lawsuits as quickly and cost effectively as possible, and assisting our clients to become ADA compliant. For more information, give us a call today.

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