Employment Discrimination and COVID-19
You may have questions regarding employment and the coronavirus. Over the past six months, we’ve seen a lot of changes in the workplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some businesses were forced to shut down and lay off their employees. Meanwhile, other companies pivoted and completely changed the way that they do business. And some workers were afraid to go to work, contract COVID-19, and put their loved ones at a higher risk. But during these unprecedented times, it’s important for both employers and employees to remember that they should be following the existing employment laws. There are still laws against employment discrimination in the COVID-19 workplace. If you feel like you need an employment discrimination lawyer in Lehigh County or Berks County, reach out to the team at Dutko Law. We’re here for you, and we’re on your side.
Employment Discrimination Issues
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from showing discrimination towards employees or job applicants based on race, color, national origin, religion, and sex. Employers should be alert of remarks directed at employees of Chinese or Asian descent, regarding the origins of COVID-19. Additionally, it’s important to remember that harassment may be happening electronically, via e-mails or video chats. Even if an employee is working from home or on leave, they should still be protected from harassment.
Age is another issue that has been coming up since the CDC said that people who are 65 or older are at higher risk, encouraging employers to offer flexibilities to this group. On the other hand, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prevents discrimination against those who are 40 or older. So, involuntary exclusion of an individual based on their age of 65 or older is prohibited.
The ADA and COVID-19
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers, employment agencies, labor unions, and governments from discriminating against employees who have a disability themselves or are associated with a family member with a disability. And there are certain underlying medical conditions that put people at a high risk of COVID-19. According to the CDC, people at any age are at an increased risk if they have any of the following conditions:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Diabetes (Type 2)
- Heart Conditions that are Serious
- Immunocompromised State
- Lung Disease
- Sickle Cell Disease
An employee should be able to request reasonable accommodations, allowing them to do their work safely and without further risk. When an employer receives a request for an accommodation related to lessened exposure to the coronavirus, they should fulfill it, barring undue hardship. Although, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the ADA doesn’t require employers to accommodate an employee without a disability in order to lessen COVID-19 exposure to a family member who may be at high risk. But the employer can provide flexibilities in such a situation if they choose to do so.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding harassment, employment discrimination, and COVID-19, please reach out to our civil attorneys at Dutko Law. We offer a free consultation.