The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on June 11 updated and expanded its technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under the Equal Employment Opportunity Laws related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The publication, “What You Should Know About Covid-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” provides approaches employers may adopt as they plan for employees returning to the workplace, including providing information to all employees about who to contact with requests for disability accommodation or other flexibilities, and inviting employees to make any requests in advance that the employer will consider on an individualized basis.

The questions addressed in the June 11 update:

  • Is an employee entitled to an accommodation under the ADA in order to avoid exposing a family member who is at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19 due to an underlying medical condition?
  • How may employers respond to pandemic-related harassment, in particular against employees who are or are perceived to be Asian?
  • An employer learns that an employee who is teleworking due to the pandemic is sending harassing emails to another worker.  What actions should the employer take?
  • As a best practice, and in advance of having some or all employees return to the workplace, are there ways for an employer to invite employees to request flexibility in work arrangements?
  • What should an employer do if an employee entering the worksite requests an alternative method of screening due to a medical condition?
  • The CDC has explained that individuals age 65 and over are at higher risk for a severe case of Covid-19 if they contract the virus and therefore has encouraged employers to offer maximum flexibilities to this group.  Do employees age 65 and over have protections under the federal employment discrimination laws?
  • If an employer provides telework, modified schedules, or other benefits to employees with school-age children due to school closures or distance learning during the pandemic, are there sex discrimination considerations?
  • Due to the pandemic, may an employer exclude an employee from the workplace involuntarily due to pregnancy?
  • Is there a right to accommodation based on pregnancy during the pandemic?