The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently hosted a webinar in which the agency answered questions about the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII to COVID-19-related employment actions.

  • The EEOC updated its previously published guidance entitled “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act” to provide information and examples regarding COVID-19. This new guidance confirms that COVID-19 constitutes a “direct threat” and a significant risk of substantial harm would be posed by having someone with COVID-19, or symptoms of it, present in the workplace.
  • Employers should follow the EEOC guidance in conjunction with the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC and state/local health authorities.

A major question has come up, and the EEOC has issued guidance:

Can an Employer Take an Employee’s Temperature? 

YES. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) gave employers the green light to take employees’ temperatures to try and ward off the spread of the coronavirus in guidance updated March 18.

The EEOC stated: “Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, and have issued related precautions, “employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever,” the agency stated. And some people with a fever do not have COVID-19.

Can an Employer Ask About COVID-19 Symptoms? 

During a pandemic, ADA-covered employers may ask employees who call in sick if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus, the EEOC said in its guidance. For COVID-19, these include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.

The below links provide information for you on:

What You Should Know About the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19

EEOC Answers Questions About the Pandemic and Antidiscrimination Laws (WEBINAR)

EEOC – Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and ADA Update

Please stay tuned for further updates.