New York, NY asked in Employment Law for New York

Q: Heart issue fall under ADA? Employer requires filling reasonable accommodation form when I asked continue work remotely.

Does a heart issue qualify under the ADA Act of 1990? My company has asked its employees to return to the physical office. I asked to continue working remotely due to being in a high risk covid group. HR sent me a reasonable accommodation request form requiring me to describe my disability, expected duration, and accommodations requested to perform my job tasks. I am an accountant working for a company that owns colleges and I have been working remotely since March without issue.

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2 Lawyer Answers
V. Jonas Urba
V. Jonas Urba
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Tarrytown, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: The question is medical. Is telecommuting a reasonable accommodation for your heart condition? But if you had the heart condition before COVID why did you not need an accommodation before the pandemic?

I think the question is more how safe is your workplace? Are they OSHA compliant? What steps are they taking to protect everyone? What else could they do to accomodate any needs which you have?

It's a complicated analysis because you don't want to accomodate yourself out of a job if the employer alleges an undue hardship.

You may want to consult with some employment lawyers regarding how to handle the situation. Some physicians who do not work with the ADA could put you in a box which may be difficult to climb out of.

Employment lawyers will examine your entire work environment and serve as coaches so hopefully you keep the job yet protect yourself. It's not all or nothing.

I settled a case a few months ago where opposing counsel, who were highly experienced employment defense lawyers, commented that my proposed resolution process was "very creative". I thought so too. It worked and everyone was pleased. Good luck!

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Newport Beach, CA

A: IMO your heart issue, standing alone, probably constitutes a Qualified Physical Disability entitling you to some kind of reasonable accommodation under the ADA . You should also be aware that many states, possibly NY, have their own ADA laws which are even more protective than the Federal ADA. In your position I would have my heart doctor write me a letter stating (generally) my condition, and his opinion that because of this you are at great risk of serious harm from CV 19, and his recommendation that you be provided a "reasonable accommodation" of being allowed to work remotely. With computers and video contacts like Zoom we can participate in ways they only showed in movies before this. You need to consult with a local NY attorney right away about this in order to protect yourself and keep your job.

As for duration that your accommodation will be needed, so long as CV 19 poses a continuing health problem to you, which is currently unknown to you. (Since we weren't all back to normal by last Easter as some politician promised us.) Having seen Gov. Cuomo on TV I believe that he would support your position that you need continued sheltering.

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