Denise Merna Dadika, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Newark office, was quoted in Law360 Employment Authority, in “5 Tips to Help Employers Tamp Down a Virus Lawsuit Wave,” by Amanda Ottaway. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

COVID-19-related employment suits have been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic, and that litigation surge is expected to continue or even intensify in the coming year, attorneys say.

Firms tracking virus-related employment litigation say hundreds of those suits — centering on issues like remote work arrangements, retaliation and discrimination allegations — cropped up in 2020. …

Exactly what 2021 holds for coronavirus litigation is still anybody's guess. But here are a few tips that can help employers minimize their liability in the event that the anticipated lawsuit spike pans out.

Remind Everyone About the ADA's 'Interactive Process'

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that both employers and employees engage in a good-faith back-and-forth about potential accommodations for an employee with a disability, called the "interactive process." …

Epstein Becker Green attorney Denise Dadika said she and her colleagues are working under the assumption that COVID-19 is a disability, since the ADA defines that term broadly.

She emphasized that even if employers know in advance they're not going to grant an employee's request to accommodate, they should be sure to engage in the interactive process anyway. …

Stay on Top of the Latest Safety Standards

Epstein Becker's Dadika noted that employers should ensure their workers are complying with federal and local safety guidance, such as wearing masks in the workplace and keeping desks six feet apart, both for overall safety and so there are fewer potential avenues for complaints.

Employers should also install internal complaint procedures, such as tip lines, if they haven't already, she said.

"I think they should make sure their employees know that there's an avenue for employees to raise concerns," Dadika said. "Sometimes it's that employees feel like they're unheard, and they don't have anywhere to go but to file a claim."

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