Twitter is once again facing a major federal lawsuit for alleged employment law violations, this time for potentially violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The lawsuit alleges that Elon Musk, the company’s new CEO, violated the law by suddenly requiring all employees to commit to 80-hour work weeks or accept severance, demanding an unreasonable amount of work without any accommodations. The suit also alleges an additional ADA violation by ending Twitter’s work from home policy without adequate explanation or notice.
What is the ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a law that protects the rights of disabled people in the United States, guaranteeing them access to public services and protecting their right to lawful employment. Among its many requirements, the ADA requires that employers make “reasonable accommodations” for disabled employees to ensure they can do their jobs. This may include, for example, permitting an employee to work from home, or obtaining assistive devices for blind or deaf employees.
What is Elon Musk Accused of Doing?
Only a few weeks after cutting nearly half of the employees at Twitter, the new CEO Elon Musk sent an email to all employees demanding they commit to working eighty hours a week without a change in salary or benefits. Employees who refused to consent to this dramatic increase in their work hours would instead be forced to accept three months’ severance and lose their positions at the company. Musk also suddenly ended the company’s work from home policy, requiring all employees to work in-person after several years of having most of its staff work from home.
Why is This Potentially Illegal?
The demand for employees to work an eighty-hour work week is potentially illegal under the ADA because it fails to consider the health of its employees. Many disabled employees may struggle to even meet a normal 40-hour work week, while an 80-hour week could be quite literally life threatening. In addition, the demand for people to come back to the office after working from home for so long is unreasonable for many employees, who may have disabilities that make coming into the office physically difficult or potentially dangerous, such as people suffering from Long COVID.
What Are the Potential Legal Issues Involved?
The biggest problem is that there is little legal precedent about whether working remotely qualifies as a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA. This means that it is uncertain whether the courts will rule against Twitter for forcing employees to come back to the office, as it is unclear whether it will be considered an ADA violation. However, it is worth noting that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance in 2020 that said remote work could be considered a reasonable accommodation if it did not cause an “undue burden” to the employer.
Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 41 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. His new book, “Fired!: Protect Your Rights & FIGHT BACK If You’re Terminated, Laid Off, Downsized, Restructured, Forced to Resign or Quit,” is available in hardback, and contains valuable advice on dealing with employment and labor law issues. To purchase the book, feel free to contact Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or visit the website at legalstratpub.com. To inquire about a legal matter, please feel free to contact attorney Steven Sack at 917-371-8000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.