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Virus-Related Complaints from Workers on the Rise

Law360 Employment Authority

More than a third of employers have fielded complaints from workers related to COVID-19, and claims involving the Americans with Disabilities Act have jumped since last summer, according to a survey of employers released by Blank Rome LLP on Wednesday. 

Blank Rome's report, based on a February survey of 130 executives, human resources leaders, and in-house and general counsel, said that 34% of respondents had gotten COVID-19-related complaints. That's up from 21% in July and just 12% in March 2020, the firm said, adding that ADA claims climbed from 4% in July to 8%.

And while the overwhelming majority of the company leaders — 87% — are in favor of taking the COVID-19 vaccine themselves, only 15% said they would require workers to get the jab. Meanwhile, 39% of respondents said they would not require employees to be vaccinated, and the rest were undecided.

When it comes to asking workers if they have been vaccinated, 41% answered that they plan to do so, though half remained unsure.

"I really think it's just kind of a wait-and-see thing right now," Blank Rome partner and study co-author Brooke Iley told Law360. "There are all of these different question marks swirling around."

Wednesday's report comes a day after President Joe Biden announced that by the end of May, the U.S. would have enough vaccines for every adult to receive one. It is the fourth of the firm's employer COVID-19 surveys since the series started last March, but the first since the U.S. authorized a vaccine for the virus. 

"We're at a really interesting inflection point," said Susan Bickley, also a Blank Rome partner and study co-author. "I think we caught a snapshot of their attitudes."

Employers largely view Biden's inauguration as positive, with 62% saying the new administration will have a beneficial impact on the fight against COVID-19, and just 6% reporting the opposite. They're also relying on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than ever, according to Blank Rome.

The vaccines and the new administration are driving optimism among employers, Iley and Bickley said.

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"Virus-Related Complaints from Workers on the Rise," by Alexis Shanes was published in Law360 Employment Authority on March 3, 2021. 

COVID-19 Employer Workplace Survey

Download Blank Rome's Survey Results