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Q&A: Government Coronavirus Directives Shield Employers From Bias, Safety Claims

Reuters, New York Times

16 Mar 2020

Janie Schulman and Chris Lyon spoke to Reuters for a Q&A that covers steps companies can take to ensure that they don’t violate medical privacy, disability discrimination, and workplace safety laws as they move to prevent to provent the coronavirus from spreading.

“There is a good chance that the health department will know about [a] confirmed case before the employer does, and will come knocking at the company’s door to identify who was in close contact with the affected employee,” according to Janie. “The employees may be able to deduce who has the disease, but the employer is spared the breach of confidentiality.”

Chris said that “the ADA generally prohibits mandatory medical examinations of current employees...unless the employer can show this is necessary to respond to a ‘direct threat.’” She added that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “cautioned employers that even a pandemic does not necessarily justify medical examinations” but “with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommending that employers in certain geographical areas start checking employees’ temperatures…employers in those places likely now would be able to justify it.”

Read the full article in Reuters, also republished in the New York Times (subscription required).

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