Updated EEOC RTW Guidance
The EEOC recently issued additional guidance on how employers should be handling various COVID-19 return to work issues. Here is part one of that guidance:
- Employers do not have to accommodate the needs of their employees’ family members. While a duty to engage in the interactive process with an employee remains regarding possible RTW accommodations, that does not extend to the disability-related needs of a family member or someone else that the employee is associated. Thus, if an employee requests to work from home because a family member is more susceptible to COVID-19, you do not need to accommodate that request. Of course, the EEOC encourages employer flexibility is this regard.
- Your duty to prevent workplace harassment has not been relaxed. For example, you should be alert to harassing comments made by employees to Asian co-workers. Similarly, harassing comments made by a teleworking employee to a co-worker can also subject you to liability, and if you learn of it, you should take the same steps you would take if such comments were made in the workplace. In fact, it may be a good idea to send out a respectful workplace email to your workforce if you have not done so recently.
- Don’t presume that certain employees can’t do the job because they are more susceptible to COVID-19. The EEOC specifically singled out employees who are over 65 or who are pregnant. You cannot bar them from returning to work. You should however be inviting them to discuss workplace accommodations with you as part of your RTW efforts.
We’ll have more on accommodations in part two. Be safe, stay the course and have a great weekend. And of course, let us know if we can help.