EEOC updates guidance related to COVID-19 and the workplace, including as it relates to accommodations under the ADA, pandemic-related harassment, and returning to work

On June 11, 2020, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated portions of the webpage titled “Coronavirus and COVID-19.” Specifically, the EEOC provided additional guidance in its question and answer document titled, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” Every time the EEOC updates the “What You Should Know” publication, which it presents in a Question & Answer format, it includes the date of the update at end of the question it is answering.

The June 11 updates discuss whether an employee is entitled to an ADA accommodation in order to avoid exposing a high-risk family member to COVID-19 (no), as well as issues that have arisen with respect to pandemic-related harassment against individuals of a Chinese or other Asian national origin.  In addition, the update discusses “best practices” for returning employees to the workplace, as well as age, gender, and pregnancy discrimination issues related to COVID-19 and the workplace.  For example, the EEOC announced that employers may not involuntarily exclude individuals from returning to work due to pregnancy or because they are over the age of 65, even if the employer is acting for benevolent reasons such as protecting the individuals from illness associated with COVID-19.

Robert C. Jarosh
Billie LM Addleman
Hirst Applegate, LLP

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