Return to the Workplace and the ADA

You want your employees back on site. Many are excited to get back in the groove, grab coffee with colleagues, chat with folks they haven’t seen in months, raid the snack drawer…. But some are anxious about possible increased exposure to Covid. Some have unvaccinated kids at home. Or live with immunocompromised partners. Or are immunocompromised themselves. Some are introverts who have thrived in the remote environment. Some just aren’t prepared to give up that sweet, sweet WFH life.

Some of these folks are probably legally entitled to a reasonable accommodation to continue remote work. Anxiety diagnosed by a certified health care provider could be (well, is) a disability protected by the ADA. Introversion isn’t. Unless that introversion causes anxiety – like in this recent case.

The ADA association clause doesn’t require employers to accommodate employees who associate with a disabled individual. But it does require that they don’t discriminate against them. So, if a manager allows her go-to employee to continue that sweet, sweet remote work life so he doesn’t quit, but doesn’t allow remote work for another who has a husband with cancer, has there been association discrimination?

Landmines abound. Protect yourself with practical employment law expertise.