Updated EEOC Guidance on ADA Issues

In light of the widespread impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all workplaces, recently the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically addressing COVID-19.

The guidance contains updated sections with specific examples related to COVID-19 symptoms and concerns. Notably, in its updated guidance, currently employers are permitted to make COVID-19 related inquiries or require employees to undergo COVID-19 testing because COVID-19 poses a “direct threat” to the workplace and therefore is an exception to the general rule of thumb that in accordance with the ADA employers are prohibited from making inquiries about an employee’s disability/medical condition.

In addition, the EEOC has also published a COVID-19 Q&A.

For the COVID-19 situation, these examples are actions that are PERMITTED:

  • Employers may ask employees who call in sick about COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat.
  • Employers may also require symptomatic employees to stay home.
  • Employers are also allowed to take the body temperature of employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Employers may also take the body temperature of individuals who have received a conditional offer of employment, as part of a post-offer, pre-employment medical exam. If such individuals show COVID-19 symptoms, the employer would be allowed to delay the start date of employment, or withdraw the job offer altogether.
  • Where an employee has been out of work or working from home because he or she has COVID-19 symptoms, the employer may require a doctor’s note to certify that the employee is fit for duty, before allowing the employee to return to the workplace.