On May 15th, 2023, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a number of significant revisions to its COVID-19 standards.
"The end of Public Health Emergency is an important milestone, and this will help employees and employers understand how the Amercians with Disabilities act the Rehabilitation Act, and other federal laws continue to protect our nation’s workforce from employment discrimination. The EEOC remains committed to vigorous enforcement of these laws”, said the EEOC chair Charlotte A. Burrows.
The following are important updates:
Employers may analyse reasonable accommodations granted by PHE and, after consulting with the employee, determine whether the need for reasonable accommodations remains based on specific circumstances. The termination of PHE does not imply that the employer can discontinue the reasonable accommodations given during the pandemic-related conditions.
The updates include common examples of possible reasonable accommodations for employees with Long COVID, such as a quiet workspace, use of noise cancelling devices, and uninterrupted worktime to address brain fog, alternative lighting and reducing glare to address headaches, rest breaks to address joint pain or shortness of breath, a flexible schedule or telework to address fatigue, and removal of "marginal functions" that involve physical exertion to address shortness of breath. Many of these accomodations cost little to nothing.
Employers can use the updates to be vigilant for COVID-related harassment of candidates or workers who need to continue using a face mask or adopt other COVID-19 measures at work.
The update addresses the termination of pandemic-related reasonable accommodations as well as suggestions for dealing with COVID-related harassment of job applicants or workers who take measures owing to a handicap. The material was updated to the EEOC's technical assistance FAQ paper, "What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws."