Attention Employers: Developments as Lawmakers Continue to Look Forward in COVID-19 Response
New EEOC COVID-19 Guidance
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has revised its coronavirus guidance regarding disability accommodation requests/harassment issues for those employees working now and for those who may soon return to work. Among other points, the EEOC confirmed that employers may ask questions/seek documents regarding the existence of a disability, the ongoing nature of the reasonable accommodation duty, and the continuation of the prohibition against disability harassment. The EEOC also explicitly recognized that the financial impact of COVID-19 may mean employers cannot afford accommodations that might have previously been required. Also, this week the U.S. Supreme Court left intact a relatively pro-employer lower court ruling requiring employees to show that disability discrimination was the “but for” reason for the adverse job action. However, that ruling is of less value for New York employers who are subject to the stricter New York State Human Rights Law disability discrimination standard of “a motivating factor”.
NYS Streamlines Benefit Application Process
The New York State Department of Labor Unemployment Division has streamlined its process so that applicants that are ineligible for standard benefits will automatically be considered for benefits under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
This federal program applies to those who are self-employed or independent contractors, but also to gig workers, those with COVID-19 or caring for someone with COVID-19 and others.
New COVID-19 Stimulus Bills
In the evening hours of April 21st, the U.S. Senate has passed another COVID-19 stimulus bill, adding $320 Billion more into the Paycheck Protection Program. The House of Representatives is expected to pass the bill as early as Thursday April 23rd and the President has indicated he will sign it. Those employers who have not considered or applied for these loans, forgivable if staffing levels are retained for 8 weeks, are encouraged to do so quickly by contacting their banker, attorney and/or accountant. Another COVID-19 stimulus package is already being considered, potentially to include “hazard” pay for COVID-19 caregivers, grocery/drugstore workers, and others providing needed goods and services during the pandemic.
If you have any questions, please contact us here or at 585-258-2800.
You can view more COVID-19-related posts in our COVID-19 Resource Area here.