As businesses scramble to deal with the ever-evolving situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are trying to balance the need to promote the health and safety of their employees while ensuring compliance with federal discrimination laws. For eligible employers (i.e., those with workforces over 15), questions about the implications of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act as it relates to the COVID-19 virus are common. Employers are justifiably concerned about the health of their current workforce, while trying to mitigate the potential for an outbreak.
Many employers are asking what rights and obligations they have regarding employees and applicants during this crisis, including, whether they can require employees to submit to temperature tests, and whether applicants can be screened with medical exams prior to employment to limit a potentially sick employee from spreading the disease.
Fortunately, on March 18, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC issued a series of questions and answers to help offer clarity to these and other common employer questions. This Q&A has been updated as recently as March 19, 2020.
As this situation continues to evolve, the EEOC may provide additional publications for guidance on not only the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and other laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).