In May 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released its guidance for employers, “What You Should Know about COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO Laws,” which covers COVID-19 in the workplace relating to EEOC-protected employee rights.
The report explains that the antidiscrimination laws overseen by the EEOC, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act, continue to apply during the COVID-19 pandemic, and other federal, state or local laws may provide additional protections. However, this should not prevent employers from following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and state/local public health authorities.
The EEOC further emphasizes 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 report covers 11 areas specifically and answers more than 100 frequently asked questions. These topics include disability-related inquiries and medical exams; medical information confidentiality; hiring and onboarding; reasonable accommodation; pandemic-related harassment due to national origin, race or other protected characteristics; furloughs and layoffs; return to work; age; caregivers and family responsibilities; pregnancy; and vaccinations.