The complaint alleges she was the subject of discrimination based on her age and sex. Kirshbaum (at age 66) contends she was terminated after she refused to return to in office work due to coronavirus concerns, and even with her doctor’s recommendation. Her employer, Saga Communications, claims she was not terminated but rather there was a breach of her contract.
In support of her discrimination claims, Kirshbaum refers to statements purportedly made and publicized by the Vice President of the company about her inability to lead from a bedroom in slippers. It appears, however, that the company agreed to permit Kirshbaum to remote work for at least some period of time, and further, permits the President of the company to work remotely six months out of the year from his Florida home.
As the effects of the pandemic continue to linger, it is anticipated that Kirshbaum’s suit will be only one of a record number of cases. In an article published in USA Today, COVID-19 has sparked more than 1,000 suits and class-actions. While many employers are struggling to either re-open or keep businesses afloat, there is clearly still a (radio) host of issues to address. As the USA Today article highlights, some of the issues driving up the number of cases include wage violations and safety concerns, as well as discriminatory practices based on age or disability. Recently, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provided updated guidance on vaccines in the workplace. The requirements for, and exemptions from, a vaccination, may also serve to “push the needle” for a surge of employment cases.
To read Jennifer A. Rymarski's previous updates on this case, please click here.