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By: Tyler W. Schwettman and Laura E. Schrick

As the United States races to control the spread of the coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), employers are likely concerned about how the coronavirus may impact their workforce. Employers may be inclined to keep a closer eye on their employees or may even urge them to work from home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recently released a publication, “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” to address recommended strategies for businesses and employers to take in order to help prevent exposure to the coronavirus in the workplace. But, are these CDC guidelines in line with anti-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act, both of which are in place to prevent workplace discrimination?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently released guidance regarding how the coronavirus may impact employers’ compliance with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, both of which are enforced under the EEOC. While the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act remain in force, the EEOC advises that they do not interfere with, or prevent, employers from following CDC guidelines and suggestions about steps employers should take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, it is imperative that employers do not make determinations of risk based on race or country of origin and maintain confidentiality of those with confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Of note, the EEOC guidance details questions employers may have such as: how much information an employer may request from an employee who calls in sick, when an ADA-covered employer may take the body temperature of employees, if the ADA allows employers to require employees to stay home if they have symptoms of the coronavirus, and if the ADA allows employers to require doctors’ notes certifying their fitness to return to work. The answers to these questions can be found in the EEOC’s publication, “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” available at https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/pandemic_flu.html.

You can find additional information for preventing the spread of the coronavirus at home, in the community, in the workplace, at schools, and even at polling stations, in the CDC’s publication, “Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities,” available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html.

If you or your company needs further guidance on any of the issues described above, the attorneys at Mathis, Marifian & Richter, Ltd. would be happy to assist.

Professional Services Disclaimer: Please note that the information presented here is as an educational service, and while it contains information about legal issues, it is not legal advice. No warranty is made regarding the applicability of the information presented to a particular client situation, and the information set forth is not a substitute for original legal research, analysis and drafting for a particular client situation.