Frank C. Morris, Jr., Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Employee Benefits practices, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in SHRM, in “COVID-19 and Workers with Disabilities,” by Kylie Ora Lobell.

Following is an excerpt:

As many businesses start to reopen, they are creating guidelines to keep their employees safe. New protocols include requiring workers to stay six feet apart from each other (and from customers, if appropriate), wear face masks and keep their hands clean at all times.

While some employees may be able to adhere to these conditions, workers with disabilities could be putting their own lives in danger just by going to work. And staying compliant with these new rules may be a hardship they physically can’t manage. …

Review OSHA Guidelines

Before reopening, review the OSHA guidelines for COVID-19, which include the most recent findings and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“OSHA will be monitoring employer compliance primarily through investigations in the event of a COVID death or hospitalization, or employee complaints,” said Frank C. Morris Jr., an attorney at Epstein Becker Green in Washington, D.C. …

Make the Workplace Accessible …

Flexibility also is key. How the workplace needs to function this summer may change by the fall depending on the spread of the virus, the CDC’s recommendations and the requirements of workers with disabilities. That’s why policies should always be flexible and frequently reviewed.

“Employers need to remember their duty to reasonably accommodate is an on-going duty and not a 'one and done’ situation,” Morris said. “Thus, if an accommodation isn’t working or conditions change, the employer must further engage in the interactive process to attempt to find a new reasonable accommodation.”

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