The EEOC has issued further guidance on what Coronavirus-related restrictions are allowable under laws it enforces, focusing on management issues that could arise as employees who have been out of their regular workplaces return as those restrictions are lifted.
The guidance is the latest of a series of from the EEOC on the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws affecting federal workplaces as well as the private sector.
It says, for example, that an employer “may choose to administer covid-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace to determine if they have the virus,” so long as those tests comply with standards from the FDA, CDC and other public health authorities about what is considered “safe and accurate testing,” it says.
Other types of screening—such as taking temperatures, asking questions about symptoms or requiring self-reporting—also are allowable because employers may make “disability-related inquiries and conduct medical exams if job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Inquiries and reliable medical exams meet this standard if it is necessary to exclude employees with a medical condition that would pose a direct threat to health or safety” and meet CDC and other public health guidelines.
Once back in the workplace, employees further may be required to wear personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves and to follow practices such as regular hand washing and social distancing protocols. Where employees ask for accommodations for disability or religious reasons, “the employer should discuss the request and provide the modification or an alternative if feasible and not an undue hardship” on the employer.”
Further, an employer may remind all employees that it is against the federal EEO laws to harass or otherwise discriminate against coworkers based on race, national origin, color, sex, religion, age, disability, or genetic information.
“It may be particularly helpful for employers to advise supervisors and managers of their roles in watching for, stopping, and reporting any harassment or other discrimination. An employer may also make clear that it will immediately review any allegations of harassment or discrimination and take appropriate action,” the EEOC said.