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Coronavirus and the ADA

March 17, 2020

by John E. Black, Esquire

There are a number of areas where employer concerns regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) may intersect with its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the parallel state statute, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”).

Some questions that may arise for employers include:

  • What steps may an employer take if it believes an employee’s medical condition poses a direct threat to that employee or others?
  • What questions may an employer ask an employee or applicant regarding a medical condition or suspected medical condition?
  • What types of medical inquiries or medical examinations may an employer conduct of an employee or applicant it believes to be infected?
  • What is the employer’s obligation if an infected employee requests a reasonable accommodation under the ADA?
  • What is the obligation under the ADA to provide an employee leave or even provide extended leave to an employee whose leave expired under the Family Medical Leave Act?
  • What are the employer’s and employee’s duties to engage in the Interactive Process under the ADA with respect to leave and other potential accommodations?
  • What criteria are employers prohibited from using when selecting those to be laid off when there is a Temporary or Permanent Reduction in Force due to a lack of work?

The proper application of the ADA to all of the above scenarios is complicated, with many nuances.  There are numerous potential employer pitfalls that must be considered. The Courts have repeatedly cautioned, that under the ADA, each case is fact specific.  Each employer action must be based on current medical information and evidence. Accordingly, before an employer takes action on any issue involving the ADA, it should brief legal counsel on the specific factual situation and seek legal advice as how to proceed. Contact us online or call (412) 338-1100 to speak with a Rothman Gordon employment attorney.

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