New federal agency guidance for COVID-19 return-to-work and workplace issues

Recently, both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) separately issued new guidance for employers to assist employers in managing workplace issues during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. This guidance supplements previous guidance and guidelines issued by the Trump Administration.

The EEOC’s guidance covers return-to-work issues in the context of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (which include the requirement for reasonable accommodation and non-discrimination based on disability, and rules about employer medical examinations and inquiries), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, (ADEA) the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA).

Similarly, OSHA’s guidance underscores Occupational Safety and Health Act’s general duty clause, which requires employers to provide a hazard-free work environment. The guidance advises employers on focusing on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.

In this video alert, McAfee & Taft labor and employment lawyers Courtney Bru, Jake Crawford and Charlie Plumb discuss the key issues covered in the latest guidance from both agencies as well as other practical considerations for employers trying to manage all the workplace issues arising in the midst of the COVID-19 environment.