Thursday, June 18, 2020
Content Courtesy of WECA Industry Partner Cook Brown, LLP
By: Ian B. Sangster
As businesses continue preparing to reopen, many employers share the same concern—what actions can employers take to provide a workplace that is safe from COVID-19?
Because the virus is primarily spread from person to person, preventing people who may be infected from entering the worksite is one of the most effective tools an employer can use to promote the safety and wellbeing of its employees. To that end, the EEOC has confirmed that employers may screen employees who physically enter the workplace by asking if they have COVID-19 or symptoms associated with COVID-19 (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever, chills, and shortness of breath). Employees with COVID-19 or who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19 may be excluded from physically entering the workplace because their presence would pose a direct threat to the health and safety of other employees.
Employers in search of more concrete answers also have other tools at their disposal.
Under normal circumstances, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits subjecting employees to medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity. Generally, a medical examination of an employee is job-related and consistent with business necessity when an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that an employee’s ability to perform essential job functions will be impaired by a medical condition. However, given the significant risk of substantial harm posed by the presence of an infected employee to the health and safety of other employees sharing the same workplace, employers may also measure employee’s body temperatures.
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