The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has authorized employers to test employees for the COVID-19 virus before permitting them to enter the workplace.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that any mandatory medical testing of employees be “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Having determined that “an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others,” the EEOC announced on April 23 that COVID-19 testing of employees does not violate the ADA.

The EEOC cautioned, however, that “employers should ensure that the tests are accurate and reliable,” and it directed employers to guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC about what may or may not be considered safe and accurate testing. It also suggested that employers should “consider the incidence of false-positives or false-negatives associated with a particular test,” and noted that “accurate testing only reveals if the virus is currently present; a negative test does not mean the employee will not acquire the virus later.”

Even if they choose to conduct testing, employers should comply with directives from medical and public health authorities regarding infection control practices (such as social distancing, regular handwashing, and other measures) in the workplace to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

Additional guidance regarding COVID-19 issues can be found at Liskow & Lewis’ website. And employment law questions can be directed to Tommy McGoey and Kindall James.

Resource:
“What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Updated April 23, 2020

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