Employers Face Legal and Ethical Questions as COVID Patients Return to Work
The transition from on-location to online office work has been disorienting for many, but especially so for people with mental and physical disabilities. Like so many others, they faced the effects of isolation and other difficulties triggered by working from home. Employers are about to face some serious legal and ethical questions regarding disabled workers.
Businesses now rely on algorithm-based hiring tools as they are inundated with online applicants. Unfortunately, this may revive certain iniquities and injustices experienced by individuals with disabilities. As it is, disabled employees are already wondering why they were told so long they could not work from home. After all, remote work with flexible schedules means increased accessibility.
Individuals with lasting COVID symptoms and protracted recoveries will eventually join the work force. These “long haulers” are set to join the nearly 900,00 New Jersey residents with physical or mental disabilities. Employers will have to seriously reexamine how they recruit, retain, and accommodate disabled workers.
Many who contracted the coronavirus at the start of the pandemic have not returned to work or have had their hours reduced. They are not functioning at the level they did before being placed on a ventilator, or after experiencing long hospital stays. They face a future of doctors’ appointments and mounting medical bills. Meanwhile, they continue to lose months of pay, and must search for other sources of income to survive financially.
The good news for New Jersey residents is that the state legislature has not overlooked the matter. Since the start of the pandemic, amendments have been made to the Family Leave Act (NJFLA), the Earned Sick Leave Law (ESLL) and the New Jersey WARN Act. These changes reinforced employer notice and posting requirements.
Still, despite what seems like insurmountable, or unfamiliar challenges, fairness in employment matters remains the same. If you are facing job discrimination related to disability, or COVID-related illness, please give us a call.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
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