The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently updated its guidance regarding COVID-19 and its impact on certain equal employment opportunity laws. The EEOC guidance consists of numerous technical assistance questions and answers pertaining to COVID-19. The update included a question asking whether an employer may administer a COVID-19 test (a test to detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus) to its employees before permitting them to enter the workplace. The EEOC responded in the affirmative, that an employer may test its employees for COVID-19.
Typically, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) only permits mandatory medical testing of employees when it is “job related and consistent with business necessity.” The EEOC acknowledges this requirement and the fact that COVID-19 testing is in line with ADA standards due to the threat an individual with the virus poses to the health of others at the workplace. To ensure the health and safety of other workers, employers are permitted to test their employees for COVID-19 prior to them entering the workplace.
In addition to testing for COVID-19, note that employers are permitted to screen their employees for COVID-19 symptoms. Specifically, employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. When conducting such screenings, the EEOC advises employers to rely on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Management (CDC), other public health agencies and reputable medical sources to determine what symptoms to screen employees for. As the list of symptoms may expand as healthcare providers learn more about COVID-19, employers should regularly check such guidance for updated symptom lists.
Additionally, employers may take the body temperature of their employees entering the workplace. Typically, taking an employee’s body temperature would be considered a medical examination and not permitted. However, in line with precautions issued by the CDC and state/local health authorities regarding COVID-19, the EEOC’s guidance specifies that employers are permitted to take an employee’s body temperature.
For any questions regarding employers testing or screening its employees for COVID-19, please contact Adrienne Dresevic, Esq. by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or your regular HLP attorney, or Partners@thehlp.com, or call (248) 996-8510.