What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
U.S. Equal employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The EEOC enforces workplace anti-discrimination laws, including:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA);
Rehabilitation Act (which include the requirement for reasonable accommodation and non-discrimination based on disability, and rules about employer medical examinations and inquiries);
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, and sex, including pregnancy);
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (which prohibits discrimination based on age, 40 or older); and,
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
The EEOC laws, including the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, continue to apply during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID-19. All EEOC materials related to COVID-19 are collected at www.eeoc.gov/coronavirus.
The EEOC has stated that guidance from public health authorities is likely to change as COVID-19 evolves, and employers must continue to follow the most current information regarding workplace safety.
On March 19, 2020, the EEOC updated its publication titled Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act [PDF version]), written during the prior H1N1 outbreak but still relevant today (2020 updates are shown in bold). This publication can help employers implement strategies to navigate the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace as it identifies established ADA and Rehabilitation Act principles to answer questions frequently asked about the workplace during a pandemic. The EEOC's pandemic page was last updated on June 17 2020 and provides a Q&A in regards to the following:
A. Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Exams
B. Confidentiality of Medical Information
C. Hiring and Onboarding
D. Reasonable Accommodation
E. Pandemic-Related Harassment Due to National Origin, Race, or Other Protected
F. Furloughs and Layoffs
G. Return to Work
The EEOC established a page to consolidate relevant coronavirus and COVID-19 information and to answer questions from the public about the EEO laws and COVID-19.
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