Reasonable Accommodations at Work During COVID
By Gregory Thyberg on February 03, 2021
Stay-at-home orders have forced many businesses to temporarily shut down, or to adopt work-from-home policies. With some restrictions lifting, businesses are slowly beginning to re-open and bring employees back to work. Given the continually high COVID-19 case numbers, this is an understandable concern regarding safety, especially for workers with disabilities.
Employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg helps workers in Sacramento, CA, and surrounding areas understand their potential right to reasonable accommodations at work during COVID, and advises them on how to advocate for the arrangements they need.
What Are My Rights?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of a physical or mental disability. Under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), workers with disabilities in the state are further provided the right to ask for “reasonable accommodations.”
About Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable accommodations are changes which allow a person to perform their job safely and effectively.
Reasonable accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis and are meant to meet the specific needs of each employee. In general terms, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations as long as they do not place an undue burden on the employer or put the safety or health of other employees or employers at risk.
Reasonable Accommodations Amid COVID
If an employee has physical or mental disabilities that increase their risk of COVID complications, or increases their anxiety and/or fears regarding returning to work during the pandemic, they may qualify for reasonable accommodations.
Examples of reasonable accommodations that may be requested by our Sacramento clients include:
- Working from home
- Restructuring work duties to limit interaction with the public or other employees
- Reassignment to a position which involves less interaction with others
- Adjusting the work schedule so that the employee is at work when fewer people are on the premises
- Creating an isolated work space for the employee
- Providing appropriate PPE equipment (such as masks or gloves)
- Extending paid leave benefits, if other accommodations cannot be made
How To Request Reasonable Accommodations
An employee with a disability can request reasonable accommodations at any time during their employment. To ensure that there is evidence that a request has been made, it is best for employees to make their request in writing.
A letter to request reasonable accommodations should include the following details:
- Notification that you are an employee with a disability
- Explanation of how the disability affects your ability to perform your job, or how the disability puts you at increased risk of serious illness or complications from COVID
- Explanation of how current workplace accommodations are not sufficient to meet your needs
- Request for specific accommodations that would allow you to perform your job safely and effectively
- A deadline for when the request for accommodations should be answered
Once a request has been made, employers must respond to the request in a reasonable timeframe. If the request is ignored without sufficient explanation, or if a request is ignored and the employee believes their rights have been violated, the employee should consider legal action.
Contact Our Law Firm
Employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg is happy to assist Sacramento workers in filing a request for reasonable accommodations, or in following through with employers after a request has been made. To discuss your situation in further detail, send us a message online, or call (916) 204-9173 at your earliest convenience.