EEOC Issues (Updated) Guidance Regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act and COVID-19

The EEOC recently offered information on how the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act may apply in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This document links to a prior document, titled “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act” (written during the H1N1 outbreak), which has been updated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the Pandemic Guidance:

The ADA, which protects applicants and employees from disability discrimination, is relevant to pandemic preparation in at least three major ways. First, the ADA regulates employers’ disability-related inquiries and medical examinations for all applicants and employees, including those who do not have ADA disabilities.(7) Second, the ADA prohibits covered employers from excluding individuals with disabilities from the workplace for health or safety reasons unless they pose a “direct threat” (i.e. a significant risk of substantial harm even with reasonable accommodation).(8) Third, the ADA requires reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities (absent undue hardship) during a pandemic.

It goes on to address these issues in more detail.

Meanwhile, the main document addresses such issues as:

  • How much information may an employer request from an employee who calls in sick, in order to protect the rest of its workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • When may an ADA-covered employer take the body temperature of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Does the ADA allow employers to require employees to stay home if they have symptoms of the COVID-19?
  • When employees return to work, does the ADA allow employers to require doctors’ notes certifying their fitness for duty?
  • If an employer is hiring, may it screen applicants for symptoms of COVID-19?
  • May an employer take an applicant’s temperature as part of a post-offer, pre-employment medical exam?
  • May an employer delay the start date of an applicant who has COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it?
  • May an employer withdraw a job offer when it needs the applicant to start immediately but the individual has COVID-19 or symptoms of it?
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