Employers are in many ways in uncharted waters at present and, therefore, by definition, staffing firms find themselves in the same place. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring full-time in-office attendance was seen as an “essential function” of many jobs. There was often resistance to accommodations which departed from this norm and employers often took the position that accommodating a disability with remote work was “unreasonable.” Most employers outside of school and healthcare settings also rarely had to think about policies related to employee vaccinations. Now, in light of the heavy focus on remote work during the pandemic, more employees are likely to also request remote work as an accommodation for a disability or simply as a benefit or “perk,” putting a spotlight on the varying approaches to office life. As many employers are either back in the office, in the process of returning to the office, or considering next steps, issues such as culture, generational differences, technological advancements, work-life balance, and what the workplace should look like come to the fore. There is no one-size-fits-all policy for remote work and whether COVID-19 vaccinations should be mandatory versus offering weekly testing options, especially when dealing with the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and its state-and-local corollaries. The combination of employee accommodation requests for remote work and to remain unvaccinated for “personal” or non-ADA reasons can create further tension and opens up the potential for discrimination claims. In this presentation, we will discuss shifting approaches to remote work, developing and implementing COVID-19 vaccination policies, and considerations relative to accommodation requests for these issues.
Kevin J. O’Connor, Esq., Partner, Peckar & Abramson, P.C.
Kevin O’Connor is Chair of the Commercial Litigation team at Peckar & Abramson, P.C. and serves as co-chair of the firm's Labor and Employment practice. Kevin is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a trial attorney with a focus on employment defense, business and commercial litigation, including complex construction disputes. He was also appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court to the position of Chairman of the District XA Ethics Committee. He is admitted in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and represents clients in state and federal trial and appellate courts across the country as well as in alternative dispute resolution forums such as arbitration and mediation. Kevin has extensive experience in the areas of EPLI and D&O defense; class action defense; partnership and corporate dissolutions; construction litigation; unfair competition; restrictive covenant and trade secret litigation; RICO and securities law defense and Computer Fraud & Abuse Act and Computer Related Offenses Act claims.
Lauren Rayner Davis, Esq., Associate, Peckar & Abramson, P.C.
Lauren Rayner Davis is an associate in Peckar & Abramson’s Labor and Employment Practice. She represents employers on a wide range of labor and employment issues such as labor contract administration, collective bargaining agreement negotiations, unfair labor practices, discrimination, harassment, terminations, layoffs, reasonable accommodations, investigations, application of state and federal family and medical leave acts, interpretation of wage and hour laws, defense of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) and Directors & Officers (D&O) claims, and provides day-to-day advice on related legal issues. Lauren practices before New York and New Jersey State Courts as well as Federal and State Agencies, including the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the New York State Division of Human Rights and the New Jersey State Division on Civil Rights. She is also certified as a New Jersey court-trained mediator.
NJSA Members: No Charge
Non-Members: $35 per person
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