Employers should follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) pandemic guidance, “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the ADA,” which details the specific medical testing and inquiries employers may make of their employees during the pandemic. Ordinarily, these inquiries would generally be prohibited by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) absent applicable exceptions. The EEOC Guidance states ADA-covered employers may:
Employers must limit questioning regarding symptoms to those deemed official symptoms by CDC/DHEC, provided here.
Ordinarily, disability-related inquiries or medical examinations by employers of employees are prohibited unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. A disability-related inquiry or medical examination of an employee is job-related and consistent with business necessity when an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that:
Notably, the EEOC’s guidance was not issued specifically in regards to employers who are health care providers or offer health-related care to high-risk individuals. Health care providers should also be following the guidelines that the CDC issued for health care service providers, provided here.
Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued particular standards applicable to pandemics and employers’ compliance responsibilities, found here.
For additional information about this topic or OSHA-related questions, please contact Chris Gantt-Sorenson.
Also review our March 5, 2020 post: What Employers Need to Know About COVID-19.
Looking for additional resources on COVID-19? Visit our resource page here.