Monday, June 29, 2020

EEOC Guidance on Antibody Tests and COVID-19 Tests

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published guidance concerning business practices that are both safe and compliant with anti-discrimination laws during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance discusses various relevant practices but most notable of which is the EEOC’s guidance on medical examinations prior to employees re-entering the workplace. According to the EEOC, antibody tests may not be required by employers for employees to re-enter the workplace, but employers may require employees to undergo a COVID-19 test to re-enter.

The EEOC advised that antibody tests should not be used to make decisions about returning to the workplace and currently does not meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)’s “job related and consistent with business necessity” standard for medical examinations for current employees. This standard applies to any mandatory medical test for employees. Thus, an antibody test may not be required for an employee to enter the workplace and employers should be aware that requiring antibody tests could be the basis of a discrimination claim.

On the other hand, tests which determine if someone has an active case of COVID-19 are permissible under the ADA and employers may use it to make decisions on whether an employee should return to the workplace. The distinction is that an employee who is currently infected with COVID-19 poses “a direct threat to the health of others.” However, employers should still be aware of the possibility of an employee testing false-positive or false-negative and employers should ensure that tests are accurate and reliable.

Nonetheless, employers are encouraged to practice social distancing, regular handwashing, and the wearing of PPE’s as there is no certainty that employees will not be infected with COVID-19 after the test is administered. In addition, employers should contact counsel to have a tailored COVID-19 safety plan compliant with federal anti-discrimination laws and regulations while ensuring a safe workplace for employees.


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