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Atlanta Employment Law Attorney / Blog / Disability Discrimination / EEOC Sues on Behalf of Employee Requesting Telework Due to COVID-19 Risk

EEOC Sues on Behalf of Employee Requesting Telework Due to COVID-19 Risk


The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a lawsuit against an employer who denied an employee the right to work from home based on a heightened risk of severe complications should she contract the COVID-19 virus. The EEOC is alleging that the company, a global payment processing company based in Columbus, Georgia, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying a reasonable accommodation to an employee with diabetes and hypertension. The employee was hoping to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation to her pre-existing conditions and fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus. The company is also alleged to have violated the ADA by retaliating against the employee for taking medical leave to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

The EEOC issued a statement that “serves to emphasize that the denial of telework is on the EEOC’s radar, according to a spokesperson for the EEOC. Employers are now on notice that denying telework to employees who have pre-existing conditions that would make long-term COVID-19 likely is unlawful and a violation of the ADA. Any employee with an underlying medical condition that could exacerbate a COVID-19 infection is likely eligible to work from home if their job permits it.

The company responded to the lawsuit by stating that the facts alleged are incorrect and the company plans to vigorously defend itself against “frivolous” litigation.

Unpacking the allegations 

The EEOC contends that a customer service representative’s supervisor told her team that some employees would be allowed to work from home due to concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19. The supervisor allegedly told workers that they had to meet specific requirements in order to be eligible to work remotely. These included:

  • Having no current work performance problems
  • Good attendance records
  • A quiet workplace available
  • A self-sufficient attitude
  • And sufficient Internet speeds to support remote work

The worker on whose behalf the complaint is being filed immediately self-quarantined after another call center employee tested positive for COVID-19 in May 2020. The employee’s physician sent a note to the employer that she was to self-quarantine for 14 days. The employee requested short-term disability leave, according to the EEOC’s complaint.

While on leave, the employee allegedly requested remote work due to a high risk of suffering severe complications related to COVID-19. She provided her employer with her doctor’s note but her employer allegedly denied the request. The EEOC said that she applied for and was subsequently granted time off in accord with the Family and Medical Act (FMLA). The plaintiff’s supervisor told her that she was under consideration for remote work but the company had to conduct an internet speed test for her to be eligible. The employer believed that she failed the speed test but told her that she may still be eligible to work remotely.

Talk to an Atlanta, GA Disability Discrimination Lawyer Today 

The Atlanta disability discrimination lawyers at The Forsythe Law Firm, LLC represent the interests of employees who have been denied remote work due to COVID-19 concerns. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation, and we can begin discussing your claims right away.



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