As the many companies push forward to return to a sense of normal, employers’ question if they can bring employees back to the office without legal repercussions. Pond Lehocky Giordano attorney, Eric J. Stark, Esq., sheds light on this complicated topic in i-sigh.com’s latest blog “Can I Force Employees to Return to the Office in a Pandemic?”
“Generally, an employer can require its employees to return to work, even in the midst of the pandemic, as long as it complies with federal, state, and local law to provide a safe workplace,” explains Stark. “As an employer, you have every right to call your employees back to work, as long as there are no shelter-in-place requirements for your area.”
There are accommodations that would need to be made for employees who have legitimate reasons to remain remote such as physical or mental disability, pregnancy, or belonging to a vulnerable population.
“Employees also may fall into a special category if they have a known disability pursuant to the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]. In that case, the employer must engage with the employee in the interactive process in order to work towards a solution, namely whether there is a reasonable accommodation that can be offered to the employee,” Stark says.
Stark is an associate attorney at Pond Lehocky Giordano where he concentrates his practice on advocating for injured workers. He covers the Central Pennsylvania region for the firm. Prior to joining Pond Lehocky, he was partner at a large a defense firm in Harrisburg, representing employers and insurers in workers’ compensation and employment law matters. He has litigated workers’ compensation matters from the initial claim stage all the way through the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. His extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law and how employers and insurers handle claims has made him uniquely qualified to now focus on protecting workers’ rights. Stark received his B.A., cum laude, from Elizabethtown College in 2002 and his J.D. from Widener University School of Law in 2005.