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Disability Discrimination and COVID-19


Disability discrimination is prohibited by the New York State and City Human Rights Laws as well as the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Disability discrimination occurs when an employer treats an employee unfavorably because he or she has a disability. The law requires that an employer provide reasonable accommodations to an employee or job application who suffers from a disability, unless doing so would cause significant disability or expense to the employer. The employer should engage in a cooperative dialogue with the employee with the purpose of finding a way to grant the accommodation.

With the coronavirus, which has a more serious impact on people with certain underlying health conditions, requests for reasonable accommodation to work from home are being made on a more frequent basis. These requests are being made by people who have the very disabilities that might make getting the coronavirus fatal and who can easily perform their work at home. Such a request should be granted because they do not impose undue hardship or expense to the employer. When an employer refuses to engage cooperatively with the employee and denies the request out of hand, such refusal may give rise to a disability discrimination claim. If you are facing this type of action from your employer, you should speak with experienced employment counsel like the attorneys at Schwartz Perry & Heller to understand your legal rights.