EEOC to employers: Don’t deny workplace rights during pandemic

While the COVID-19 pandemic presents unprecedented challenges, it is important for everyone to remember that all laws and regulations are still in place and still being enforced. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently reminded employers that they can respond to the virus and protect their businesses and workers without violating federal disability discrimination law.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) continues to apply during the pandemic and it’s important for employers to understand that the ADA doesn’t prevent them from following guidelines issued by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) or Wisconsin or Milwaukee authorities.

The EEOC stresses that employers can do the following without running afoul of disability discrimination law:

  • Screen new hires and current employees for COVID-19 (including the use of temperature checks)
  • Protect workers by delaying start dates for new hires
  • Protect workers by removing from the workplace employees who are at risk of transmitting the virus
  • Notify workers that they might have been exposed to the virus by a co-worker who tested positive
  • Ensure that workers returning to the workforce are fit to do so by requiring health care provider certification

While some businesses are contracting, many of those providing essential services are hiring to meet increased demand. The EEOC has said that expanding businesses are not in violation of the ADA if they screen applicants for COVID-19 after making conditional job offers – as long as the business does the same screening for all who are entering their workforce in the same type of position.

The EEOC also says it’s important for employers to know that regardless of the pandemic, they cannot make disability-related inquiries of job applicants.

To protect your workplace rights, contact the Milwaukee employment law office of Alan C. Olson and Associates to schedule a safe phone or video conference consultation.


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