With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous cities and states have mandated infection control practices, including social distancing, mask requirements and sanitization of work areas and tools. As a result, many construction leaders now have questions as to how government guidance related to COVID-19 interacts with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, can a project manager enforce a mask mandate when a construction worker presents a doctor’s excuse noting breathing difficulties? Or, what if the employer is aware that an individual presents a higher risk for severe illness because of an underlying health condition, but that employee does not request an accommodation?
Thankfully, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently published guidance relating to these requests that construction leaders can reference. While our goal is to summarize that guidance and provide practical advice for the construction sector, this article does not substitute for situation specific legal counsel.
SCENARIO 1: AN EMPLOYEE REFUSES TO WEAR A MASK AND PRODUCES A DOCTOR’S NOTE CITING BREATHING DIFFICULTIES. MUST THE EMPLOYER ACCOMMODATE SUCH A REQUEST?
Potentially. Since the request to not wear a mask is considered an accommodation under the ADA, the employer can still require a doctor’s note when considering the accommodation.
Reprinted courtesy of Molly Gwin, Construction Executive, a publication of Associated Builders and Contractors. All rights reserved.