With talk of reopening states and getting back to work emerging amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) announced that employers may test for COVID-19 without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). In COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws, the EEOC provides that during a pandemic, ADA-covered employers may ask employees who call in sick if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus. In addition, because the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and have issued attendant precautions, employers may also measure employees’ body temperatures upon entering the workplace. Significantly, employers must maintain all information about employee health as confidential medical records in compliance with the ADA.
The EEOC further acknowledges that as public health authorities and doctors learn more about COVID-19, they may expand the list of associated symptoms about which employers may inquire. When screening employees at home or entering the workplace during this time the EEOC encourages employers to rely on the CDC, other public health authorities, and reputable medical sources for guidance on emerging symptoms associated with the disease. These sources may guide employers when choosing questions to ask employees to determine whether they would pose a direct threat to health in the workplace. FULL ARTICLE