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Bringing Select Workers Back Carries Litigation Risks: Experts

Business Insurance

Employers that are inviting select employees to return to work after COVID-19 shutdowns must tread carefully to avoid potential discrimination claims, experts say.

Without analysis beforehand, employers could leave themselves open to charges of violation of federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as state and local laws.


If an employer returns a 35-year-old to a job but not a 65-year-old to the same position, based on a concern the older employee is more vulnerable to COVID-19, this could arguably be considered discrimination, said Gus Sandstrom, a partner with Blank Rome LLP in Philadelphia, who defends and advises employers. 

“One thing we’ve been recommending when this comes up is, it’s perfectly appropriate to reach out to employees in high-risk groups and inquire as to accommodations that may be possible,” and whether they may prefer to stay home or return at a later date, Mr. Sandstrom said.

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“Bringing Select Workers Back Carries Litigation Risks: Experts,” by Judy Greenwald was published in Business Insurance on May 12, 2020.