EEOC Files First COVID-19 ADA Accommodation Lawsuit

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  (EEOC) recently filed a disability discrimination  lawsuit in Georgia federal court. This case represents  the first COVID-19 pandemic-related lawsuit the  EEOC has filed about a remote work request for an  American with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation. 

According to the suit, a Denmark-based workplace  experience and facility management company with a  U.S. headquarters unlawfully denied its employee’s  reasonable request for an accommodation for her  disability. After requiring employees to work  remotely four days per week from March to June  2020, the facility reopened. At that time, the  employee requested an accommodation to continue  working remotely two days per week and take  frequent breaks while working on-site due to a  pulmonary condition that causes difficulty breathing.  Although the company allowed other employees in  similar positions to work from home, it denied her  request and, shortly after, fired her, according to the  EEOC. 

“Denying a reasonable accommodation and terminating an  employee because of her disability  clearly violates the ADA at any time.” Marcus Keegan, regional attorney for  the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office Employer Takeaway 

Even pre-pandemic, the EEOC supported remote  work as a reasonable accommodation under the  ADA. It should come as no surprise that they are  pushing to use employers’ remote work policies  

during the pandemic as the grounds for an argument  that remote work accommodations are not  unreasonable. 

It remains to be seen whether courts will agree that  remote work should be considered a reasonable  accommodation for disabilities. Employers should  continue to monitor this lawsuit and others that  follow in its wake and be prepared to update policies  and procedures as appropriate. 

We will keep you informed of any noteworthy  updates. 

Contact Lakeview Risk Partners today for more resources.