The EEOC Updates Its Guidance on COVID-19 to Add Questions-and-Answers Regarding Return-to-Work Situations, Reasonable Accommodations, and Harassment

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Patricia Tsipras

April 17, 2020

Today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its COVID-19 guidance once again.

With respect to accommodations, the updated guidance makes clear that, during the pandemic:

  • employers still are permitted to ask questions or request medical documentation in response to a request for an accommodation (see questions D.5 and D.6)
  • temporary accommodations are acceptable if some urgency exists or if the employer has limited time to fully evaluate the accommodation request (see question D.7)
  • It is acceptable to ask now about accommodations that employees may need when the business reopens (see question D.8)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act’s undue hardship analysis still applies during the pandemic.  An accommodation that would not have posed an undue hardship prior to the pandemic may pose one during the pandemic (see questions D.9 through D.11)

With respect to harassment, the EEOC advises that employers take steps upon reopening to remind employees that harassment and discrimination based on race, national origin, color, sex, religion, age (40 or over), disability, or genetic information is prohibited and will not be tolerated.

With respect to return to work, the EEOC confirms that employers may make medical inquiries of employees consistent with CDC and other public health authority guidance (see question G.1) and that employers should engage in the interactive process and offer modified or alternative protective gear or infection control practices if a disability dictates (see question G.2).

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