As Covid-19 infections continue to drop nationwide, many employees will return to their workplaces after working remotely for nearly a year. To plan for a return to work, the EEOC has advised that employers may ask employees to undergo Covid-19 screening if it is job related and consistent with business necessity. According to the EEOC, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) does not interfere with CDC or other public health agencies recommendations, although employers must follow their state and local laws when deciding on a plan to bring employees back to work.
As supplies are available, periodic screening may include employees in the healthcare industry who have direct or indirect exposure to patients or infections materials and those in nursing home setting; employees in other workplaces who have close contact with the public such as restaurants or salons; employees who work in places where there is a higher risk of transmission because social distancing is difficult; and workers who are in critical infrastructure sectors where continuity of operations is a high priority. With regard to vaccines, the EEOC has indicated it is permissible to ask employees if they have received a vaccine, while avoiding questions regarding medical conditions, religious beliefs, or family history in compliance with the ADA. Wearing masks and social distancing will likely continue for many business in the foreseeable future.
While many employees in essential jobs have worked through the pandemic without interruption, others are looking forward to returning in the weeks and months to come. It is important for employers to have a plan for the returning workforce that complies with the federal, state, and local laws to not only check hazards in the workplace but prevent discriminatory or other unlawful practices. If you have a questions regarding employment law, contact the Davenport employment law & workers’ compensation attorneys of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for assistance today at 563-355-6478.