The EEOC published a recorded webinar on March 27.  The EEOC uses a Q and A format to address 22 common questions from employers covering a broad range of topics including among other things, taking employees temperatures, appropriate and inappropriate disclosure of information related to an employee’s COVID-19 diagnosis, and managing employee accommodation requests including requests from employees in the high risk categories identified by the CDC.  The EEOC emphasized that none of the laws the EEOC enforces, including the ADA, interferes with or prevents employers from following the guidance of the CDC or other public health authorities.

As the employer community attempts to navigate the current pandemic crisis and EEO law, one of the most common questions from employers is whether the ADA permits employers to notify public health authorities if they learn an employee has COVID-19.  The EEOC explained yes, the ADA permits employers to notify public health authorities because COVID-19 poses a direct threat to both those with the disease and those with whom they come into contact. The EEOC, however, did not clarify whether an employer is permitted to identify the individual by name.   The EEOC also addressed the information that can be shared with the workforce under these circumstances:

  1. Employers may be concerned that telling employees that “someone at this location” or “someone on the 4th Floor” has COVID-19 may not provide sufficient information to allow people to know if they should take further steps to protect themselves or others.  Therefore, can employers tell the workforce the name of the employee with COVID-19?   

 No.  The ADA does not permit such a broad disclosure of the medical condition of a specific employee.  More importantly, this broad disclosure is not recommended by the CDC.  The CDC advises employers to maintain confidentiality of people with COVID-19.

The EEOC’s webinar supplements the EEOC’s existing publications: “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19” and “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act“.

Please visit our COVID-19 resource webpage often to stay abreast of developments or contact your JL attorney directly with any questions. For more information regarding COVID-19 issues employers face, tune in to our Daily Briefing webinars using this link to register.

Photo of Patricia Anderson Pryor Patricia Anderson Pryor

Patricia Anderson Pryor is a Principal and Litigation Manager of the Cincinnati, Ohio, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is an experienced litigator in both state and federal courts, representing and defending employers in nearly every form of employment litigation, including class actions.

Patricia Anderson Pryor is a Principal and Litigation Manager of the Cincinnati, Ohio, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is an experienced litigator in both state and federal courts, representing and defending employers in nearly every form of employment litigation, including class actions.

Ms. Pryor represents and advises employers in federal and state administrative proceedings, in all forms of dispute resolution, including mediation and arbitration, and in managing all aspects of the employment relationship. She has represented employers before the EEOC, the DOL, the DOJ, the OFCCP, and the NLRB, in addition to various state agencies.

Ms. Pryor also works with employers to avoid litigation by developing effective policies and practices, including harassment policies, social media policies, FMLA practices, attendance programs, affirmative action programs and wellness plans. She conducts proactive wage and hour audits, harassment investigations and compensation/pay equity reviews.

She is a frequent speaker at legal seminars and to employers and professional groups and provides training to managers and human resource professionals on a wide variety of employment and legal issues, including wage and hour issues, harassment, disability, the Family and Medical Leave Act, pay equity and affirmative action obligations. She has been featured on the radio program “Employment Straight Talk” and has published a number of employment law articles.

While attending law school, Ms. Pryor was a member of the editorial board of the University of Cincinnati Law Review.

Learn more about Ms. Pryor on the Jackson Lewis website.