COVID-19 Employment Litigation: Taking Stock Two Years In
The COVID-19 pandemic ignited a storm of employment-related litigation, but recent court rulings are starting to provide some clarity to employers, according to an article in Reuters.
The article examines how courts have ruled on questions of liability linked to compensation for employees taking COVID-19 tests, reimbursements for remote work expenses, disability and leave following a positive COVID-19 test, layoff notification requirements, and wrongful death and injury claims.
Among other findings, the article discusses how Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) litigation in relation to COVID-19 has also increased, including claims from employees that they were fired for testing positive for the virus. These cases are surviving dismissal, as courts find that COVID-19 could qualify as a disability under the ADA.
The authors also explain that wrongful death claims against employers who allegedly implemented inadequate prevention protocols are facing uphill battles, because workers’ compensation statutes typically bar employees from suing for illnesses contracted in the workplace. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are attempting to circumvent that barrier with “take home” claims against employers, alleging that the employee contracted COVID-19 at work and passed the illness to family members, but these claims have had “mixed results” so far.
The article encourages employers to monitor these developments and, if necessary, based on emerging trends in these decisions, consider modifying their practices.