August 12, 2020

Volume X, Number 225

August 12, 2020

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August 11, 2020

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August 10, 2020

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EEOC issues guidance on taking employee temperatures

Yesterday, March 18, 2020 the EEOC issued updated guidance giving employers the right to take employees’ temperatures without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provided additional guidance.

The EEOC cautions employers that taking employee temperatures is not the ‘be all, end all’ solution. However, because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19, and have issued precautions, “employers may measure employees’ body temperature. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever,” the EEOC stated. 

If you decide to move in this direction, you will want to put together a detailed plan that addresses how this procedure will occur. It is important to keep in mind employees’ privacy, how the information will be secured to maintain confidentiality, how you would handle an employee refusal and what actions you would take if an employee has a fever. 

The new EEOC guidance also makes clear that during this pandemic, employers may ask employees who call in sick if they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus without violating the ADA. However, it is important that you do not ask about symptoms related to other conditions. The EEOC guidance also lists the COVID-19 symptoms and you should not ask about symptoms related to other health conditions. 

Recognizing that employers can require a return to work note from a doctor, and doctors are overwhelmed, the EEOC suggested new approaches such as relying on local clinics to provide a form, a stamp or email certifying that an individual does not have COVID-19. In light of limited testing ability, doctors have been issuing notes return to work notes that indicate evaluation was completed based on symptoms or other test results. This is in line with the EEOC’s suggested new approach.

Lastly, the EEOC provides guidance regarding COVID-19 and new job applicants. It outlines what employers can do to screen those applicants as well as whether or not employers can delay or withdraw a job offer. 

Copyright © 2020 Godfrey & Kahn S.C.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 81


About this Author

Christine McLaughlin, Labor Attorney, Godfrey Kahn Law Firm

Christine Liu McLaughlin is a shareholder and chair of the Labor & Employment Law Practice Group in the Milwaukee office. Christine also is the immediate-past chair of the firm's Women's Leadership Forum and chair of the Diversity Committee.

Christine provides counsel on a wide variety of employment and labor issues ranging from interpretation and application of federal and state employment laws to specialized employee transition matters in complex business transactions.

Christine advises her clients on general...