The Regulatory Review recently featured a Workforce Bulletin blog post titled “EEOC Addresses ‘Return to Work’ Issues and Clarifies ‘Undue Hardship’ in New Guidance on COVID-19 and Antidiscrimination Laws,” in their article “The Americans with Disabilities Act Thirty Years Later.” The blog post was co-authored by Maxine Neuhauser, Susan Gross Sholinsky, and Lauri F. Rasnick, Members of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice.
Following is an excerpt from the article:
Thirty years have passed since a group of protestors gathered at the base of the U.S. Capitol Building in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the first major piece of civil rights legislation in the world for people with disabilities. At the protest, members of the group set aside their assistive devices and crawled up the 78 steps to the building to demonstrate the inaccessibility of public spaces.
A few months later, President Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990. The ADA’s stated purpose was to guarantee equal opportunity for people with disabilities. Three decades after its passage, is the ADA still an effective tool?
The ADA consists of five titles that prohibit discrimination in public arenas such as school, the workplace, and transportation, as well as publicly accessible private places. Since its passage, millions of dollars have been spent to make public spaces more accessible to individuals with disabilities. But today, Americans conduct increasing amounts of their daily activities in cyberspace rather than in physical public spaces, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. …
The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with medical conditions that could make contracting the current coronavirus more risky, explain Maxine Neuhauser, Susan Gross Sholinsky, and Lauri F. Rasnick of Epstein Becker Green. In an article published in The National Law Review, they discuss a new guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that clarifies how the ADA applies to employees returning to work amid the pandemic. Employers can only exclude employees from returning to work if their medical condition “would pose a direct threat to health or safety.” Neuhauser, Sholinsky, and Rasnick write that employers are generally ADA compliant if they follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health agencies.