Essential businesses still operating during the coronavirus pandemic need to follow the requirements of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The rules have changed, as a recent post by the law firm Connell Foley shows.
“Current CDC guidance, as well as that of other public health authorities, now acknowledges the significant risks of community spread of COVID-19. The virus clearly satisfies the ‘direct threat’ standard,” according to attorneys Steve Barnett, Mary “Molly” Hurley Kellett, and Michael J. Affrunti.
As a result, inquiring about an employee’s health before they enter the workplace is permissible during the pandemic, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Pandemic Guidance. Ordinarily, the ADA restricts such inquiries.
“Employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat,” the attorneys state. “Further, as per CDC recommendations, an employer may ask employees if they recently traveled to an area with known local or international spread of COVID-19, or have come into close contact with someone who has a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.”
Connell Foley also points out that Gov. Phil Murphy’s April 8 executive order directs employers to provide employees with masks while performing their duties in the workplace. Cloth face coverings are also recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.