The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The publication, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” expands on a previous publication that focused on the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, and adds questions-and-answers to respond to common inquiries.
In response to inquiries from the public, the EEOC has provided resources on its website related to the pandemic in an employment context. The agency will continue to monitor developments and provide assistance to the public as needed.
The EEOC provided a detailed bulletin entitled Q&A About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19 on March 18, 2020. The bulletin includes access to EEOC’s publication entitled Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act along with links to guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC for state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19. Employers should remember that guidance from public health authorities is likely to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Therefore, employers should continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety. The EEOC also provides Work from Home Guidance that may assist organizations in understanding how to approach work from home for employees with disabilities.
In “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the ADA,” the EEOC discusses strategies to remain ADA compliant while preparing for, during and after a pandemic. An employer’s ADA responsibilities to individuals with disabilities continue during a pandemic. Only when an employer can demonstrate that a person with a disability poses a direct threat, even after reasonable accommodation, can it lawfully exclude them from employment or employment-related activities.
The EEOC suggests providing the same accommodations for an employee who is teleworking that would be provided for them if they were working in the office, absent undue hardship. For example, if an employee with a disability needs a sit/stand workstation at the workplace and requests it at the telework site, the employer should provide that accommodation, absent undue hardship. In the event of undue hardship, the employer and employee should cooperate to identify an alternative reasonable accommodation.
The EEOC posted a pre-recorded webinar addressing questions arising under any of the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws and the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video on YouTube, view it on their Coronavirus web page, or read a transcript of the webinar.