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New York City

exterior photo of ILR's offices in Manhattan, NYC
Where ILR shows its work and impact on its home in New York City.
Originally published in Work and the Coronavirus.

Reopened and Safety Compliant, Now What?: ADA Employment and Accessibility Issues

a person wearing a mask moving boxes on a handtruck to illustrate reopening and ppe

Esta Bigler

As businesses reopen and put COVID-19 safety measures into place, building owners and employer tenants will be facing a new world. Reduced numbers of people will allowed in building lobbies and elevators. People entering will have their temperatures taken, be required to wear masks, socially distance and possibly complete a health questionnaire. If positive cases of COVID-19 develop, contact tracing will be required, and building owners and employers will be providing information to anyone potentially exposed to COVID-19.

Asking an employee “how are you?” is no longer a simple question. It could lead to sending someone with symptoms home, inadvertently learning about an underlying health condition, or a request for reasonable accommodation. CDC Guidelines for offices mean that workplaces will need to plan for employees who may not be able to see the markings placed on the floor to direct movement, read new signs or lips hidden behind masks, physically tolerate wearing a mask, or maneuver a wheelchair in aisles made narrower by reconfigured workstations or limited building entrances.

All of these factors will raise ADA employment, accommodation, and accessibility issues. Join us for a discussion on how building owners and employer tenants can work together to provide a safe and inclusive workplace.