Lawyer advises Arizona employers to tread carefully when rehiring

May 7, 2020, 2:16 PM
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Employers deciding which workers to bring back as Arizona businesses prepare to reopen will have to keep federal law in mind over the next weeks.

Retail stores, beauty salons and barber shops can begin to open Friday under certain conditions per Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order, which went into effect March 31 to mitigate the threat of coronavirus and was extended until May 15 with modifications.

On Monday, restaurants meeting state health guidelines can resume dine-in service on a limited basis.

Businesses can’t focus on just bringing back young, healthy staff, attorney John Balitis of Phoenix told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“Even an employer that thinks it’s doing the right thing and says, ‘You know, I think I’m going to put older workers, pregnant women, people, or who have diabetes, people who have asthma, at the end of the line’ … workers in those protected classes who want to return … are going to have potentially a valid claim for discrimination,” Balitis said Wednesday.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the federal agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws), has made very clear in guidance that it has issued since the pandemic started, that covered employers cannot use protected characteristics as litmus tests for deciding who to bring back to work,” Balitis said.

There are options, he said.

“If an employer is faced with a worker who says, ‘I have an underlying condition that puts me at higher risk … and I don’t want to come back yet because I think I might endanger myself,’ if that employer is covered by the [American Disabilities Act], the employer needs to consider that in deciding whether or not allowing that worker to work remotely is a reasonable accommodation,” Balitis said.

Arizona workers who are worried about exposure to the coronavirus could choose not to return to their jobs and still keep their unemployments benefits.

“What really constitutes an adequate risk of exposure or infection? It certainly doesn’t include somebody who is just worried and feels uncomfortable returning to work,” Balitis said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...

Here’s a map of Fourth of July events taking place across metro Phoenix

Fourth of July is one of the staples of summer and there are plenty of events occurring around the metro Phoenix area where you can celebrate America's birthday.
5 hours ago
(Flickr Photo/Grand Canyon NPS)...

Grand Canyon National Park tourism generated $710 million for local economy in 2021

Tourism in Grand Canyon National Park brought in $710 million for the local economy in 2021, according to a report released Monday.
5 hours ago
(University of Arizona Photo/Chris Richards)...
Kevin Stone

UArizona offers free tuition for Native American undergraduate students

The University of Arizona is making undergraduate education free for Native American students at the Tucson campus.
5 hours ago
(ADOT Flickr Photo)...

AAA Arizona expects Fourth of July travel to return to near pre-pandemic levels

AAA Arizona expects travel over the Fourth of July holiday to return to near pre-pandemic levels this year, despite high prices at the pump.
5 hours ago
The Threshold initiative was launched June 1, 2022, at a news conference at the Arizona Multihousin...
Julio Ernesto Mora Rodriguez I Cronkite News

Landlords asked to help solve homelessness through new Maricopa County initiative

The number of people experiencing homelessness is rising in Maricopa County, and with it the need for affordable housing. Enter Threshold, which intends to change the housing dynamic by inviting landlords to be part of the solution.
5 hours ago
(City of Tempe Photo)...

Arizona cities exchange fireworks for other showy July Fourth displays

A few Arizona cities plan to light up the night sky without fireworks to celebrate Independence Day this year. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Lawyer advises Arizona employers to tread carefully when rehiring