Frank Morris Quoted in “Osaka’s French Open Exit Spotlights Employment Disability Issues”

Business Insurance

Frank C. Morris, Jr., Member of the Firm in the Litigation, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation, and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in Business Insurance, in “Osaka’s French Open Exit Spotlights Employment Disability Issues,” by Judy Greenwald.

Following is an excerpt:

Tennis player Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open late last month highlights employment-related mental health issues.

Ms. Osaka, ranked No. 2 in women’s tennis at the time, had cited depression and anxiety for her decision not to participate in a news conference following her first-round match — as required by tournament organizers. She withdrew from the Grand Slam tournament after being fined for her decision.

Employers increasingly are wrestling with how to accommodate workers with mental health concerns as offices open following the rise in people being vaccinated against COVID-19, experts say.

Employers should engage in an interactive process with their employees to reach an accommodation with those who claim to have mental health issues, as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they say.

Ms. Osaka is not a French Open employee, and the ADA is not applicable in France, but the issues involved reflect those that arise under the ADA.

The legislation, which was passed in 1997 and applies to employers with at least 15 employees, requires employers to make a reasonable accommodation to employees who report a disability if it does not impose an “undue hardship” on their business.

A qualified employee or applicant with a disability is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the job’s essential functions, according to the law. …

“I fully expect that, for a whole variety of reasons, that particularly in the initial return to the workplace, there will be a lot of issues that will arise” and questions that will be asked, some of which will fall within the ADA’s ambit, and require the interactive process, said Frank C. Morris Jr., a member with Epstein Becker Green P.C. in Washington.