EEOC allowing employers to take temperatures during pandemic

published in McAfee & Taft EmployerLINC | March 17, 2020

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has just recently clarified that because the Centers for Disease Control and other state and local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions, employers are now permitted to measure employees’ body temperatures.  The EEOC cautions, though, that some people with COVID-19 will not have a fever.

This clarification is consistent with the EEOC’s “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act” guidance published in 2009.

If employers choose to take employee temperatures, they should use an infrared digital thermometer in order to make the process less invasive and prevent further spread of the virus.  Temperatures should be taken in private with no other employee present.  Do not line up employees to have their temperature taken in a non-confidential manner.  Records of the testing results should be kept in a confidential file.  Employers will also need to determine their return-to-work policy if an employee has a fever.  The CDC recommends that employees not be permitted to work until they have been fever free for at least 24 hours, but employers could choose a longer period of time.

Employers are also permitted to ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of the pandemic virus.  For COVID-19, these symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, and/or sore throat.  Employers must maintain all information about an employee’s illness as a confidential medical record.  As we’ve already advised, employers can require employees to stay home if they become ill with symptoms of COVID-19.

For more information about the coronavirus’ impact on the workplace, click here for additional resources.