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COVID-19 Update for Employers

As we head through the holiday season in the midst of an upsurge of COVID-19 infections and the arrival of vaccines, employers have questions about how to deal with their employees. On December 16, 2020, the EEOC released guidance stating that employers may require employees to show proof of vaccination once vaccines become generally available. That guidance has been incorporated into the EEOC’s FAQ’s on COVID-19 entitled “What You Should Know AboutCOVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” It is available here: https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has posted its “DFEH Employment Information on COVID-19” here: https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2020/03/DFEH-Employment-Information-on-COVID-19-FAQ_ENG.pdf. Its advice is similar to the EEOC’s, but the DFEH has not yet addressed permissible employer practices with respect to the vaccines. We can expect the advice to be similar to the EEOC’s.

Until vaccines become generally available, here are the measures that both the DFEH and EEOC permit employers to take to protect the workplace from exposure to the coronavirus:

  1. An employer may ask an employee entering the workplace or calling in sick if he or she is experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat.
  2. An employer may take an employee’s body temperature before allowing entry to the workplace.
  3. An employer may require that an employee submit to a test for the COVID-19 virus, but may not require an antibody test.
  4. An employer may (and should) require employees to wear face masks in the workplace. The employer must provide the masks.
  5. An employer may (and should) send home any employee who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

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    3020 East Colorado Boulevard
    Pasadena, California 91107
    Phone: 626-449-2300
    Fax: 626-449-2330
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