The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently put out a statement clarifying what the law says employers can and cannot do during a pandemic. To help job seekers who might have concerns with the recent COVID-19 pandemic developments, we’ve summarized these points here.
- First, the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are still in effect. The EEOC assures that they don’t interfere with guidelines and recommendations to employers from the Center for Disease Control.
- Employers can ask employees who take off sick if they have COVID-19 symptoms. Because COVID-19 has been acknowledged by the CDC as contagious, and because the ADA allows employers to take precautions to prevent danger to their employees, employers are allowed to check if their employees have possibly been exposed to COVID-19.
- Employers can take an employee’s temperature to check for COVID-19. The ADA would consider this a medical exam; however, because the CDC acknowledges community spread of COVID-19 and has issued precautions, employers are allowed to do this.
- Employers can require employees who have COVID-19 symptoms to stay home. This is in keeping with ADA and CDC guidelines as mentioned above.
- Employers can require a doctor’s certification before you can return to work. If you’ve had COVID-19 symptoms, your doctor’s certification of fitness to return to duty is not considered disability-related by the ADA.
- Employers can screen new hires for COVID-19 symptoms as long as they do so after a conditional offer has been made and do so for all new employees. This can include taking a temperature.
- Employers can delay your start date if you have COVID-19 symptoms in compliance with CDC recommendations.
- Finally, employers can withdraw a job offer if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Again, this is because the CDC has declared it is unsafe for people to return to work while they have COVID-19 symptoms.
To sum up, the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act are still in effect. Employers are allowed by law to ensure the safety of their employees during a pandemic by screening for COVID-19 symptoms and preventing those with symptoms from returning to work until they can confirm they are safe to do so.
Click here to read the full EEOC statement.