September 29, 2020

Volume X, Number 273

September 29, 2020

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September 28, 2020

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EEOC Adds COVID-19 Testing Guidance to Its Technical Assistance on COVID-19 and Anti-Discrimination Laws

On the heels of adding Return to Work guidance to its technical assistance for employers, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Law” (discussed  here),  on April 23, 2020 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued an update addressing COVID-19 testing by employers. This latest guidance acknowledges that COVID-19 presents a direct threat to the health of others sufficient to justify testing.  It cautions, however, that employers should only use tests that are “accurate and reliable.” Specifically the FAQ states:

A.6.   May an employer administer a COVID-19 test (a test to detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus) before permitting employees to enter the workplace?

The ADA requires that any mandatory medical test of employees be “job related and consistent with business necessity.”  Applying this standard to the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may take steps to determine if employees entering the workplace have COVID-19, because an individual with the virus will pose a direct threat to the health of others. Therefore, an employer may choose to administer COVID-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace to determine if they have the virus.

Consistent with the ADA standard, employers should ensure that the tests are accurate and reliable.  For example, employers may review guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about what may or may not be considered safe and accurate testing, as well as guidance from CDC or other public health authorities, and check for updates.  Employers may wish to consider the incidence of false-positives or false-negatives associated with a particular test.

Finally, note 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. Based on guidance from medical and public health authorities, employers should still require – to the greatest extent possible – that employees observe infection control practices (such as social distancing, regular handwashing, wearing face masks, if required, and other measures) in the workplace to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

©2020 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 115

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About this Author

Maxine Neuhauser, EpsteinBeckerGreen, Life Science, Employment, Health Care
Member

MAXINE NEUHAUSER is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment and Health Care and Life Sciences practices, in the Newark office of Epstein Becker Green. Her practice focuses on litigation and providing strategic advice and counsel to regional, national, and international corporations, in multiple areas of law, including labor and employment, intellectual property and non-competes, and health. Ms. Neuhauser has represented clients in numerous, diverse industries, including financial services, aviation, managed care, life sciences, and retail. She also represents...

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Susan Gross Sholinsky, Labor Employment Attorney, Epstein Becker Green Law Firm
Member of the Firm

SUSAN GROSS SHOLINSKY is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. She counsels clients on a variety of matters, in a practical and straightforward manner, with an eye toward reducing the possibility of employment-related claims. In 2013, Ms. Sholinsky was named to theNew York Metro Rising Stars list in the area of Employment & Labor.

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Lauri F. Rasnick, epstein becker green, new york, labor, employment
Member

LAURI F. RASNICK is a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice in the firm's New York office.

Ms. Rasnick has significant experience representing employers in labor and employment matters. She regularly advises clients in many aspects of the employment relationship, including avoidance of litigation, employee terminations, disability and religious accommodation issues, wage and hour compliance, internal investigations, labor relations, and compliance with federal, state and local statutes. Ms. Rasnick frequently...

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