Review: Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission answers questions on employee COVID-19-related reasonable accommodation requests

Home/Review: Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission answers questions on employee COVID-19-related reasonable accommodation requests

Review: Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission answers questions on employee COVID-19-related reasonable accommodation requests

Review: Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission answers questions on employee COVID-19-related reasonable accommodation requests

This guidance from the EEOC clarifies the steps an employee should take to request reasonable accommodation from an employer based upon having a medical condition CDC indicates may put her at increased risk of Covid-19-related severe illness.

The employee or someone like the employee’s doctor must let the employer know in conversation or in writing that, due to medical needs associated with their underlying medical condition, they need a change to their workplace.

The employer can ask questions and/or seek medical documentation to help decide whether the person has a disability and if there is a reasonable accommodation that can be provided without causing undue hardship.

In guidance FAQ number G.5., the EEOC offers several examples of the types of accommodation that may eliminate or reduce to an acceptable level a direct threat to an individual. As the EEOC states, “As with all discussions of reasonable accommodation during this pandemic, employers and employees are encouraged to be creative and flexible.”

The CDC’s list of medical conditions that place individuals at higher risk includes people with:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Compromised immune systems
    • Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • Severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • Liver disease

This is especially true if the underlying conditions are not well controlled.

|2020-05-06T11:44:33-04:00May 6th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|0 Comments

About the Author: Ross Silverman

Ross Silverman
Ross D. Silverman, JD, MPH, is Professor of Health Policy and Management at Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health and Professor of Public Health and Law at Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He is a member of the IU Centers on Health Policy and Bioethics. His research focuses on public health and medical law, policy, and ethics, and law's impact on health outcomes and vulnerable populations. He also serves as Associate Editor on Legal Epidemiology for Public Health Reports, the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. His most recent Covid-19 publications include: "Ensuring Uptake of Vaccines Against SARS-CoV-2" in the New England Journal of Medicine (with MM Mello & SB Omer), and "Covid-19: control measures must be equitable and inclusive" in BMJ (with ZD Berger, NG Evans & AL Phelan)

Get Involved with Indiana CTSI