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A Reminder for HR and an Update in Title IX

Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) – Will vaccinations change anything?

During the 2020-2021 school year, school districts granted many reasonable accommodations under the ADA to employees with disabilities.  More still hoped that once a vaccine was approved, many accommodation requests would no longer be needed. With the school year well-underway for most, many HR professionals are beginning to receive requests for new or continued accommodations because of the continued presence of COVID-19. But a question remains, “Can a school district consider the employee’s vaccination status when determining reasonable accommodations under the ADA?

The simple answer is yes. However, school districts may not take the employee’s vaccination status into account when determining if the employee has a disability. In addition, the school district cannot deny accommodations simply because the employee has been vaccinated. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency charged with ensuring compliance with the ADA, has opined that even though an employee has been vaccinated against COVID-19, the employee may still need reasonable accommodations because their condition may mean that the vaccine may not offer them the same measure of protection as other vaccinated individuals. As such, while a school district can certainly consider the reasonableness of a request in light of vaccination, the school district must still undertake the interactive process with the employee and is advised to consult the employee’s health care provider to determine if the employee’s condition is such that the vaccine does not offer adequate protection, and what, if anything, is needed, in order for the disabled employee to have the same measure of protection the vaccine has for other people.

Title IX – An Update

On July 28, 2021, a federal district court in Maryland issued a decision in Victim Rights Law Center et al. v. Cardona, No. 1:20-cv-11104, 2021 WL 3185743. This case challenged numerous provisions of the August 2020 Title IX regulations. The Court ultimately found that a provision within the live hearing section of Title IX regulations to be arbitrary and capricious and vacated that part of the provision. On August 10, 2021, the court clarified that the decision applied nationwide.

Nevertheless, this decision will not affect K-12 school districts as the court vacated that part of the Title IX regulations that prohibits a decision-maker from relying on statements that are not subject to cross-examination during a live hearing. Since K-12 school districts are not required to provide live hearings with cross-examinations, the decision will not affect K-12 school districts. As such, this provision only affects postsecondary institutions.

As always, the School Law Practice Group at Stock and Leader is here to help you navigate the interactive process of the ADA and keep you informed of updates to Title IX. Members of our Group are ready to discuss concerns, answer questions, and provide counsel on any of your school district’s issues.

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