California employers may need to evaluate new kinds of potential disabilities and requests for accomodations as a result of Covid-19. One possible scenario is an employee’s claim that Covid-19 infection itself is a protected disability as opposed to a temporary illness such as influenza. Employees may also claim that fear of contracting the virus is a disability that must be accommodated. If the employee’s fear is based on an unerlying, qualifying disability that puts an employee at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19, the employer may need to consider whether reasonable accomomdation is available to address this hightened risk.
Some workers may claim that an employer’s vaccination requirement should not apply to them because of a current medical condition or fear of having an allergic reaction or injury from the vaccine. Employer who require workesr to wear masks or other PPE may be asked to make exceptions to those policies as well. For example, an employee with a latex allergy may seek an accommodation of waering non-latex gloves. Whate the scenario, the same legal principals apply. An employer may require that an employee provides medical information confirming having a disabile condition.
If an employee doesn’t have a disability or sincerely held religious belief for not being vaccinated, there is no obligation on the part of his employer to honor any request for exemption from the vaccination requirement. California employers that do require vaccinations (except for those employing 25 or fewer employees) must provide supplemental sick leave for time spent to receive a vaccine and for any time the employee can work as a result of symptoms related to a Covid-19 vaccine. Employers are allowed to aks why an employee has missed work, and whether the employee is expeirencing Covidf-19 symptoms.
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