Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, PLLC

A Washington, D.C. based law firm with a civil practice in employment law

Page 2 of 6

COVID-19 and telework as an accommodation: is this narrow legal right applicable to you?

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the general workplace trend toward greater use of telework (also known as telecommuting, work from home, tele-work, or remote working).  After the expiration of social distancing mandates, some employers may choose to extend the availability of telecommuting for their workers.  After all, there are many valid business reasons for employers to expand telework as an option.  But workers need to be aware that telecommuting is not a legal right, except in very limited circumstances.

In the field of employment law, it always a good idea to remember that worker rights are limited.  Employers are very much aware of this fact.  The bottom line is this: if an employer does not want to provide telework as an option, then the law generally supports the employer’s decision.

But there may be a legal right to telework if an employee with a disability needs telework as a reasonable accommodation.  As explained by the EEOC, “Changing the location where work is performed may fall under the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirement of modifying workplace policies, even if the employer does not allow other employees to telework.”  (EEOC Guidance, “Work at Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation,” Feb. 3, 2003.)

But what about requesting telework as an accommodation in connection with COVID-19?  If an employee has a documented medical condition making the employee particularly susceptible to infection, and if the job in question can be successfully performed remotely, many employers are likely to provide telework as a temporary accommodation during the pandemic, especially if the request is supported by a note from the employee’s doctor.  There are likely to be other medical situations where telework provides a reasonable accommodation during the pandemic.

Telework as a reasonable accommodation is well established legally, but not all employers will quickly agree to such a request.  For example, the employer may express doubt that the employee has a disability.  Or the employer may claim that the essential functions of job in question cannot be performed remotely.  And it is very common for employers to require medical documentation to support a requested disability accommodation.

Workers with a medical issue may want to explore with their doctor and their employer the possibility of telework as an accommodation.  An additional resource for employees and employers is the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), which provides free consultations to assist with accommodation issues.  JAN provides a specific webpage with discussion of telework issues.

For a free consultation to discuss whether you may be eligible to use telework as a reasonable accommodation, contact us.

KPWH Secures Hold on Suspension of Whistleblower

KPWH attorney Cathy Harris secured a hold on a proposed suspension of a federal whistleblower at the Department of Education. Our client had blown the whistle to the Washington Post regarding the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal. KPWH was assisted by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which agreed to our request to the Department of Education that the suspension be placed on hold. The matter is now under review to determine if there has been whistleblower retaliation.

To read an article in the Washington Post about the decision, click here..

To contact Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, click here.

KPWH Named to List of “Best Law Firms” for 2020

U.S. News and World Report included Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris in its 2020 list of the best law firms in the nation. Both of the firms’ Washington, DC and Austin, TX offices were recognized in the rankings for Employment Law. The rankings are based in part on surveys sent to lawyers around the country. We are proud that our hard work and success on behalf of employees is recognized in the legal community.

If you wish to seek legal advice or inquire about becoming a client of the firm, please contact us.

EEOC Issues Decision in SSA Class Action

The EEOC issued an appellate decision in the Jefferson v. SSA Class Action. Find out more about the decision by clicking here.

KPWH Files Suit to End Forced Unpaid Labor During Government Shutdown

KPWH attorneys filed a lawsuit on January 9, 2019 to end the practice of forcing certain federal employees to work while in unpaid status during the government shutdown. The suit alleges that this practice violates the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition of involuntary servitude. The suit also claims that the government is in violation of the Fifth Amendment by prohibiting federal employees from obtaining outside employment during a government shutdown, and that the government’s practice of compelling some federal employees to provide unpaid work violates the Constitution’s separation of powers and other federal statutes.

A copy of the lawsuit is available by clicking here.

KPWH is honored to have filed suit on behalf of federal employees standing up for their rights. For more information about our law firm, or for contact information, click here.

Federal employees must know their rights under whistleblower laws

The New York Times published opinion article by a member of the Trump Administration describing efforts by federal employees to prevent and oppose misconduct by the Administration.  The Administration has since launched an inquiry to find and intimidate employees that may be whistleblowers.  These actions demonstrate how important it is that federal employees know their rights under federal whistleblower laws.  These protections are broad, covering a wide range of disclosures related to government misconduct. Even federal employees who did not blow the whistle, but are perceived to have done so, are protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Whether a federal employee is actually protected under whistleblower laws depends heavily on the circumstances.  Those that feel they have been targeted as actual or perceived whistleblowers should consider the options available to them, including contacting the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.  Federal employees looking to determine their particular rights under federal whistleblower protections should consult an attorney, and can contact Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, PLLC.

KPWH Successfully Resolves Transgender Claim Against DC Restaurant

Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris is proud to announce that Cathy Harris and David Hart represented Charlotte Clymer in the just resolution of her charge of discrimination regarding an incident at a DC-based restaurant.  The District of Columbia is one of only a few jurisdictions that protect transgender persons in public accommodations.  This matter demonstrates not only the strength of the District’s protections, but also the need for further legal reforms to protect gender minorities.

More information about this resolution and the parties’ joint statement is available here.

KPWH Files Claim Against Restaurant for Harassing Transgender Woman

KPWH is proud to represent Charlotte Clymer in her civil rights claim against Cuba Libre Restaurant. She was illegally harassed when told to show her ID before using the restroom.

See media coverage of the matter by clicking here.

NY Times Notes KPWH Questions about DOJ Sexual Harassment Policy

A May 4, 2018 article published by The New York Times about new sexual harassment guidelines issued by the Department of Justice quotes KPWH co-manager Cathy Harris, who questions the DOJ policy. Ms. Harris stated to the Times:

“The question this raises is who does the Department of Justice prioritize?” Ms. Harris said. “Right now, they’re worried about being sued by harassers. They should be worried about being sued by the victims whose claims are ignored. That will be much more damaging to the department’s reputation.”

Read the entire NY Times article here.

Contact KPWH to discuss your possible legal claims.

Class Action Victory — Claims Due Now

The EEOC entered a final decision finding that the U.S. Postal Service discriminated against the Class of approximately 130,000 USPS employees when it subjected them to the National Reassessment Process (NRP) between May 5, 2006 and July 1, 2011.

Class Member claims for individual money awards are due now. The deadline for an individual Class Member to submit a claim for money damages and other relief is 30 days from when the individual receives a written notice from the USPS about the case. To be safe, attorneys for the Class have recommended that Class Members submit a claim by April 12, 2018. If a Class Member fails to submit a timely claim, the Class Member may lose the ability to seek any individual relief in the case.

Directions for submitting claims, a sample suggested Claim Form, and more information about the case is available at NRPclassaction.com.

KPWH is proud to have represented the class in this case, and to have achieved this monumental legal victory.

« Older posts Newer posts »