In this series of blog posts that follow, Lazaro Law Group answers some of the most common questions for Employers:
The global pandemic has caused confusion for both employers and employees about the kind of support sick or disabled employees can expect in the workplace, and what kind of protections employers can use to keep healthy workers safe. The EEOC has issued guidance, updated from the most recent H1N1 pandemic in 2003, to address these concerns and supply best practices. Below, we have answered some of the most common questions for employers and for employees.
How can I ensure that sick employees don’t come to work, and how can I protect healthy employees in the workplace?
Typically, under the ADA, it is not ok for employers to request medical information relating to a disability or to perform a medical exam on an employee. However, to prevent the spread of the virus, the EEOC has stated that it is ok to require employees to get their temperature taken when they arrive at work, or to deny them access to the building if they refuse. Additionally, you can ask questions about symptoms associated with the virus, like coughing and fatigue. As new symptoms are identified by medical professionals, new symptoms will be added to the list of acceptable questions.
It is important to note that employees still have a right to privacy about any medical conditions, including Covid19. If an employee has caught the virus, you shouldn’t reveal their identity to other workers, but you should notify individuals who may have come in contact with the sick employee.
Further, an employer should never force an unwilling employee to take their coworkers’ temperatures or discipline them if they refuse. It is best to get a willing volunteer to take temperatures with a no contact thermometer, and to provide PPE to protect the volunteer.
Keep in mind that as the situation continues to evolve, there will be new guidance from the EEOC. Additionally, depending on your state, there may be local laws that provide additional protections for employees. If you have a different question, or you would like further guidance on best practices during the pandemic, contact us.