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California of Department of Fair Employment and Housing Issues COVID-19 Guidance

As California cases of COVID-19 began to rise in early March, several California administrative agencies released information on COVID-19 employment issues, such as administration of paid sick leave, disability benefits, and unemployment insurance. Yet, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)—the agency charged with enforcement of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which, among other things, prohibits discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace—remained silent.

Earlier this week, the DFEH released its own guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DFEH’s guidance, styled in the form of Frequently Asked Questions, answers many questions that have arisen as COVID-19 workplace concerns have become ubiquitous, including whether employers may take employees’ temperatures, how much information an employer may reveal about employees who come in contact with the virus, how much employers may ask about an employee’s absence from work, and whether employers may require employees to wear personal protective equipment. The DFEH’s guidance confirms that an employee may use leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) if the employee is ill with COVID-19 or is caring for a family member with COVID-19. The guidance also discusses whether employers should require medical documentation for leaves and accommodations for COVID-19 related disabilities given practical limitations on employees’ abilities to obtain medical documentation. Most of the DFEH’s guidance mirrors guidance previously issued by federal agencies.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) previously released its own guidance for COVID-19 response in the workplace, including whether employers could perform employee temperature checks and how much information an employer could request from employees calling in sick. However, because the EEOC only administers federal law, before the DFEH issued its guidance, it was unclear whether the same direction would apply under California’s stricter FEHA.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020

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About this Author

Kelly D. Gemelli, Jackson Lewis, non-solicitation agreements lawyer, Retaliation litigation attorney
Of Counsel

Kelly (Wood) Gemelli is Of Counsel with the San Diego, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Ms. Gemelli represents employers in all areas of employment law and has litigated a broad range of employment matters.

Ms. Gemelli's experience includes:

  • Discrimination and harassment suits on the basis of age, race, national origin, gender, and disability
  • Leave issues
  • Non-competition and non-solicitation agreements
  • ...
619-573-4916
John P. Nordlund, Jackson Lewis, wrongful termination lawyer, breach of contract attorney
Associate

John P. Nordlund is an Associate in the San Diego, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

His practice focuses on the defense of employers and individuals in employment litigation matters under state and federal law, including individual plaintiff and representative action lawsuits for wrongful termination, breach of contract, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, and other related issues.

While attending law school, Mr. Nordlund served as a legal intern for the Education & Disability Clinic in the USD Legal Clinics and as a teaching assistant in the Lawyering Skills Department. He was also a Comments Editor for the San Diego Law ReviewEditorial Board. Mr. Nordlund received the CALI Excellence for the Future Award for Alternative Dispute Resolution and was a member of Wigmore Inn, Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society.

619-573-4904