Yesterday the EEOC updated its Q&As for “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws”. Here are some highlights:
- At-Risk Family Members: Employees are not entitled to accommodations under the ADA to protect family members who, due to disability, are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness. Though the ADA prohibits discrimination against an employee based on association with a disabled individual, those protections are limited to disparate treatment and harassment and do not extend to reasonable accommodations. Employers are, of course, permitted to accommodate employees who are concerned about family member exposure provided that accommodations are not offered in a discriminatory matter.
- Employee Health Screening: The EEOC has already stated that employers may choose to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms before allowing them to enter the workplace, as long as such screening is consistent with applicable guidance from the CDC and public health authorities and not applied in a discriminatory manner. In a new Q&A, the EEOC notes that if an employee requests an alternative method of screening because of a medical condition or as a religious accommodation, the employer should consider this as a request for an accommodation and should address it through the interactive process.
- Older Workers: An employer may not involuntarily exclude from the workplace workers who are over 65, even if the employer is trying to protect an employee who is at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. That said, while the ADEA does not require employers to reasonably accommodate employees for age-related reasons, it does not prohibit employers from providing flexible work arrangement to employees aged 65 or older even if it results in younger workers (aged 40 to 64) being treated less favorably based on their age in comparison.