EEOC Releases Updated Guidance to Employers Regarding ADA-Compliant Practices During the COVID-19 Crisis: The Updated EEOC Guidance Addresses Permissible Medical Inquiries and Examinations During the Ongoing Pandemic

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP - May 11, 2020

Updated May 11, 2020.  On May 5 and 7, 2020 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) released additional updates to its technical assistance bulletin entitled, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.”  This new guidance addresses employers’ obligations to employees with certain underlying medical conditions that the CDC has identified as placing them at higher risk for severe illness if they were to contract COVID-19, and is addressed below in the Reasonable Accommodation Section.  The EEOC initially issued guidance on this issue on May 5 but retracted it, in part, just hours later, stating that the information had been “misinterpreted in press reports and social media.”  The EEOC’s updates with respect to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) have been incorporated into this memorandum.

On March 21, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission updated its more than ten-year-old “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act” guidance to include specific guidance related to COVID-19, and on March 27, 2020, the EEOC released a recorded webinar on the same subject.  This memorandum synthesizes the EEOC’s guidance.