The UFT Solidarity inspired court case that three judges refused to rule on its merits has not yet reached judge four but the City-Department of Education lawyers continue to try to reach agreements with individual plaintiffs to grant accommodations to work remotely. Tonight, we learned that the one person that I know of who sued for an accommodation exclusively for child care purposes has succeeded in receiving one. This is uplifting news.
In figuring out how to write an affidavit and apply for a remote teaching accommodation for this friend of ours, we had a problem because this teacher is in good health (thank God) and her parents don't live with her. She applied to work from home solely because she was a parent who had nowhere to place her child due to her child's school being mostly closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She used as her basis for legal action the Federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act and the NYC Department of Education's accommodation policy for "those who do not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment" which can be found on page 22 of the NYC School Reopening Plan. Here is the relevant portion:
Requests for reasonable accommodations to work from home will be considered in accordance with relevant disability laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and consistent with applicable health guidance, CDC guidance. Staff will be required to provide supporting medical documentation with their application.
Schools and offices may consider the needs of individuals who may not feel comfortable returning to an in-person educational environment when making assignments and modifying work settings and/or schedules where possible.
As far as I have been told, this was the only UFT member who sued using the federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act in addition to the DOE policy to gain an accommodation to work full time remotely from home for child care. We spent many hours working with this parent on her affidavit and we were totally pleased to hear the results this evening. A lawyer had advised me that the federal laws were the way to proceed in this area.
The UFT loves to brag about all they do for working parents but in reality, they have done nothing that I know of to help working parents get accommodations to work from home during this pandemic if the parent's main reason for needing to teach remotely is child care responsibilities. Did you get one of those Michael Mulgrew emails about the FFCRA? Even when federal law is on the side of the parent, the UFT certainly has not insisted on accommodations to care for children. It is good to see that the City-DOE attorneys saw things differently for at least one working mom.
There might be other parents who come forward quickly to get accommodations to work remotely because they need childcare. I can't imagine how there isn't a need for remote work as now over half the parents in the system have opted for full-time remote learning for their children according to what I saw today. Students who choose to go into buildings are still learning remotely at least half of the time. I hear class sizes for remote learning are going through the roof while in-person classes are tiny generally.
Update from Lydia Howrilka:
From 28 petitioners to 18!
Our 10th petitioner has received a remote work accommodation last night.
Bryan and I are kind of surprised. The City attorneys have been keeping their word and have been calling DOE Legal and prompting DOE Legal to work with principals to grant teachers a remote accommodation.
City has until 6pm on Friday to grant the remaining 18 petitioners a remote work accommodation or we re-file our petition and spin the wheel to see who will Judge #4 be!
Can't stop, won't stop until we are fully remote!
COVID symptoms cannot stop me from fighting for my UFT members!