Employers Can Now Bar Employees with Medical Conditions
May 5, 2020
The EEOC offers new guidance to employers regarding known medical conditions during the pandemic.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has clarified that employers may now bar employees with known underlying medical conditions from entering the workplace if contracting COVID-19 "places him at higher risk for severe illness." Companies now may ask employees with known medical conditions to sat home for the duration of the crisis, if the workplace conditions pose a "direct threat" to worker health.
Significantly, the new guidance from the EEOC places high importance on medical evaluations of workplace to determine if there is a direct threat and then a medical evaluation of the worker to determine the likelihood of harm in relation to the worker's medical condition. In the guidance, the EEOC states employers should be able to minimize "direct threat" through reasonable accommodations. While not stated in the guidance, it is evident that medical professionals must be consulted when crafting accommodations. The EEOC stressed that if the accommodation does suffice then employers should reduce employee risk by offering leave, telework, or job reassignment. Employers should rely on guidance from medical professional when determining accommodations and whether job reassignment is necessary.