The EEOC recently updated its guidance for employees covered under the ADA, and specifically the at-risk population. The only thing certain right now is change, and this situation is certainly fluid. Here’s what you need to know about the EEOC Back to Work Guidance to protect your employees if you are an employer, and to be protected if you are an at-risk or immune-compromised employee.
This article is not to replace the guidelines of the CDC, EEOC, and other authorities. It is designed to bring awareness for those employees who are returning to work and are at most risk because they are immunocompromised.
You can read the EEOC’s updated guidance on CV and the ADA. Here are the key take-aways.
The CDC defines the highest risk population to be (workplace-related):
- 65 years and older
- Underlying medical conditions including:
- Chronic lung disease
- Moderate to severe asthma
- Serious heart conditions
- Severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
- Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
- Liver disease.
According to the EEOC’s updated guidelines, “There may be reasonable accommodations that could offer protection to an individual whose disability puts him at greater risk from [CV] and who therefore requests such actions to eliminate possible exposure. Even with the constraints imposed by a pandemic, some accommodations may meet an employee’s needs on a temporary basis without causing undue hardship on the employer.”
The employee (or doctor) must let the employer know of the need for accommodation. It’s also important to note that if the employee does not request a reasonable accommodation, the ADA does not mandate the employer to take action.
Additionally, the EEOC back to work guidance continues, “If the employer is concerned about the employee’s health being jeopardized upon returning to the workplace, the ADA does not allow the employer to exclude the employee – or take any other adverse action – solely because the employee has a disability that the CDC identifies as potentially placing him at “higher risk for severe illness” if he gets [CV]. Under the ADA, such action is not allowed unless the employee’s disability poses a “direct threat” to his health that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation.”
The key tenants still remain for both employers and employees – communication, flexibility, and understanding.
WORK WITH FORTITUDE ARTICLE: 10 Transitional Work Accommodations for the Immune Compromised
CDC RESOURCE: Back to Work Guidance
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