Many employees are being forced to return to the workplace despite requesting accommodations for mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, depression, agoraphobia or PTSD. This has led to a spike in lawsuits, according to a recent report from Bloomberg Law.
Some of these lawsuits “could involve tricky gray areas under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, such as when leave or telework can be reasonable disability accommodations,” the article says.
ADA claims will be easier to prove for workers with documented pre-existing mental health condition, but Bloomberg said that some pandemic-induced mental health issues could also qualify for accommodations.
While employers can cite an “undue burden” on business operations to deny some accommodations, Bloomberg notes that it will be difficult to raise that defense if employees have been allowed to work remotely for more than a year.
Source: “Pandemic Spike in Anxiety, Stress Prompts Office-Return Suits,” Bloomberg Law, Aug. 19, 2021
A federal judge has determined that Apple Inc. must face nearly all of a proposed class action lawsuit claiming that its voice-activated Siri assistant violates users’ privacy.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said the plaintiffs could try to prove Siri routinely recorded their private conversations because of “accidental activations” and that Apple disclosed these conversations to third parties, such as advertisers.
Voice assistants typically react when mobile device owners use “hot words” such as “Hey, Siri.” But users are claiming that their private conversations have caused them to receive targeted ads for various related products and even medical treatments.
The judge said the plaintiffs may pursue claims that Apple violated the federal Wiretap Act and California privacy law and committed breach of contract.
On July 1, another federal judge in California said users of Google’s Voice Assistant, represented by the same law firms as in the Apple case, could pursue a similar lawsuit against Google and its parent Alphabet Inc. And Amazon.com Inc has faced similar litigation over its Alexa voice assistant.
Source: “Judge Says Apple Must Face Siri Privacy Lawsuit,” Reuters/Insurance Journal, Sept. 3, 2021