EEOC updates COVID-19 guidance
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its technical assistance guidance regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus).These new FAQs clarify and update the agency’s guidance on several COVID-19-related issues.
No protection for shielding high-risk family members: The guidance clarifies that there’s no protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for an employee seeking an accommodation based solely on a desire to avoid exposure for a family member in a higher risk category for contracting COVID-19. (See FAQ D.13.)
Don’t test for antibodies: The EEOC added an FAQ clarifying that an antibody test for COVID-19 shouldn’t be used to make decisions about employees returning to work, as doing so would violate the ADA. Because antibody tests don’t indicate whether a person currently has an active infection, they’re not “job related and consistent with business necessity” and therefore don’t meet the standard for permitting medical examinations under the ADA. (See FAQ A.7.)
Best practices on explaining how to request accommodations: The EEOC suggests informing employees returning to work how to make accommodation requests, who to contact, and what is your process for considering requests. (See FAQ G.6.) In addition, there’s new information on the duty to accommodate employees who need different screening methods due to their medical condition or religious beliefs. (See FAQ G.7.)
Address harassment effectively: Also new is guidance on combatting harassment or discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or national origin. This comes up particularly for employees who are perceived as Chinese or Asian. (See FAQ E.3.)
Don’t exclude pregnant workers: New guidance on avoiding pregnancy discrimination states, among other things, that an employer cannot exclude pregnant workers from a worksite. (See FAQ J.1.)
Tips: Many of our members are finding it challenging to manage their workforce while being flexible in accommodating workers’ concerns during this extraordinary time. If you have any specific questions related to your workforce, please contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.