Employers may test employees for COVID-19
As businesses begin to reopen businesses, EEOC provides updated guidance regarding COVID-19 and the ADA. The new guidance states that employers may now test their employees for the presence of the COVID-19 virus before entering the workplace. Previous guidance stated that employers could monitor their employee’s body temperatures consistent with the ADA’s direct threat principles, but left open the option for COVID-19 testing.
Employers should keep in mind that where testing kits are available and when tested properly, the results provide limited information to help maintain a workplace free from the virus. The swab test detects whether the virus is currently present in the body on the day that the test is administered but does not tell whether the employee had or will have the virus in the future. The blood test detects COVID-19 antibodies and will tell if the person has had COVID-19 but not whether the person is actively contagious.
EEOC cautions employers that any tests used have to be evaluated for accuracy and reliability. If employers are going to implement testing, they should ensure that tests are conducted in a consistent, non-discriminatory and confidential manner.