EEOC Files Lawsuit On Behalf Of Remote Worker
Typically, we wouldn’t discuss the EEOC on our blog, but as it happens, this issue can have a far-reaching impact on workers across the nation. To frame the story, the EEOC, which fights for civil rights in the workplace, has recently filed a lawsuit on behalf of a remote worker who simply doesn’t want to return to work amid ongoing virus concerns. Her employer has denied this request and now the two are battling it out in court. Why is this lawsuit important? It could impact everything from civil rights law to workers’ compensation. In this article, we’ll discuss the implications.
Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act is part of the Civil Rights legislation that defines your rights in the workplace. The law requires that all employers make reasonable accommodations to help those with disabilities do their job. In other words, their disabilities cannot be held against them and they must be afforded any reasonable accommodation they request. Typically, these reasonable accommodations came in the form of wheelchair access, access to the bathrooms, parking spaces, or other things of that nature. Now, after the pandemic, it is becoming apparent that people can do their work from home without really missing a beat. But employers are wary about affording employees that ability. Hence, this has become the latest in a long line of American labor disputes.
The issue then becomes: Can employees demand that they be allowed to work remotely if they have a weak immune system or some other risk factor that could render them more susceptible to the ongoing pandemic? If there is a strong medical basis for requesting the accommodation, would it not be reasonable to allow immuno-compromised employees to work from home? The EEOC thinks so, and the majority of Americans will likely agree.
Workers’ compensation and remote working
One of the reasons that employers are remiss to allow workers to work from home is that the current workers’ compensation law allows employees to file claims for injury while working from home. The employers may not like employees working from home because they can’t keep an eye on them, but they really don’t like workers filing claims for injury after they tripped over a pile of their own mess. They can’t control the environment and thus don’t feel as though they should be responsible for compensating the employee. Nonetheless, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system and so that argument doesn’t track.
Nonetheless, employers will want to see some movement in these rules to more clearly define their obligation to their employees so that it doesn’t seem as though they’re subsidizing just about any event that causes injury in their home. In other words, employers want clearly defined rules. Well, they are about to receive one. The result of the aforementioned Georgia case could allow disabled workers to demand to work from home so long as there is a medical reason to do so.
Talk to a Decatur, GA Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you’ve been injured at work and your employer’s insurer refuses to pay, call the Decatur workers’ compensation attorneys at O’Connell Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.