WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The publication, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” expands on a previous publication that focused on the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. The newly added questions and answers, G.3, G.4., and G.5., provide information about the accommodation of employees with underlying medical conditions. The answer to G.4. was revised after initial posting to clarify that the ADA does not allow exclusion of employees simply because they have an underlying medical condition that the CDC says might pose a higher risk of severe illness if the individual contracts COVID-19.
“It is important that employers understand that the ADA does not allow them to act against employees solely because the employee has a CDC-listed underlying medical condition,” said Legal Counsel Andrew Maunz. “Employers must do a thorough direct threat analysis, which includes an individualized assessment based on relevant factors and a determination of whether the threat can be reduced or eliminated through a reasonable accommodation."
EEOC’s publication had already addressed workplace screening and exclusion permitted of those who pose a direct threat to others due to having COVID-19 or symptoms and could transmit it to others. Questions G.4. and G.5 address the direct threat to self that an employer would have to meet to exclude someone from the workplace due to a CDC-identified underlying medical condition.
In response to inquiries from the public, the EEOC has provided resources on its website related to the pandemic in an employment context. The agency will continue to monitor developments and provide assistance to the public as needed.
The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.
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