On May 7, 2020, The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 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. (We covered the previous guidance in our blog dated April 23, 2020.) According to the EEOC, 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.
The 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. The EEOC notes that 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, and states that it will continue to monitor developments and provide assistance as needed.