EEOC COVID-19 Guidance for Employers

What questions are legal to ask employees about COVID-19?

The EEOC COVIC-19 guidance for employers is extensive. The pandemic has ushered in situations that require compliance. Yet, at the same time, employers must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws that protect employees’ rights. If you’re an employer, navigating this maze of information can sometimes be challenging.

In this blog, we address questions/actions related to COVID-19 based on the EEOC’s guidance rules. Employers need to know what questions they can ask and what actions they can take.

To protect your workforce, what can you ask an employee who calls in sick?

You can ask whether they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Examples include: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or a sore throat. However, you must maintain all the information the employee gives you as a confidential medical record, in compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

When screening employers to enter the workplace, what symptoms can you ask them about?

As health authorities have expanded the list of associated COVID-19 symptoms, you can ask employees about those symptoms as well. Examples include the loss of smell or taste, and gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Can you take an employee’s body temperature during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, you can. However, keep in mind that not all people with COVID-19  have a fever.

Can you require that an employee with COVID-19 symptoms stay at home?

Yes, you can.

Can you require the employee returning to work to have a doctor’s note stating they are fit for work?

Yes, you can. However, some doctors may be too busy. Therefore, you may need to rely on local clinics to provide a form, stamp or e-mail that certifies the person no longer has the virus.

Can you administer a COVID-19 test to an employee?

Yes, you can administer a test prior to allowing employees to enter the workplace.

Can you ask employees physically entering the workplace if they have been diagnosed or tested for COVID-19?

Yes, you can. You can also exclude employees with COVID-19 or the virus symptoms from the workplace.

 

Can you ask only one employee—as opposed to asking all employees—questions to determine whether the employee has COVID-19? Can you require this employee alone to have their temperature taken or to undergo screening?

In order to do this, you must have a reasonable belief based on objective evidence that the worker might have COVID-19.

May you ask an employee who is physically entering the workplace whether they have family members who have covid or symptoms associated with COVID-19?

No. To do so violates the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). However, GINA does not prevent you from asking whether the employee has had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or who might have covid symptoms.

Do you have questions or concerns about EEOC COVID-19 guidance for employers?

If you have employee-related questions about COVID-19, our firm can help. Discuss your concerns with an attorney at Stephen D. Hans & Associates, P.C. Call (718) 275-6500.

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