On May 15, 2023 the EEOC issued a number of updates to its COVID-19 technical assistance, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws,” addressing questions about ongoing COVID-19-related ADA issues now that the COVID-19 public health emergency has ended.
The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency does not mean employers can automatically terminate reasonable accommodations that were provided due to pandemic-related circumstances. However, employers may re-evaluate accommodations granted during the public health emergency, and, in consultation with the employee, assess whether there continues to be a need for reasonable accommodation based on individualized circumstances.
For employees working with Long COVID, the EEOC’s updates include common examples of possible reasonable accommodations, including: a quiet workspace, use of noise cancelling devices, 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” involving physical exertion to address shortness of breath.
The EEOC also included tips for employers about preventing COVID-related harassment of applicants or employees who continue to take precautions to avoid COVID-19. An employer may want to provide illustrations of pandemic-related harassment for supervisors, managers, and all other employees to help them understand what actions may violate the EEO laws. For example, one illustration might show a supervisor or coworker violating the ADA/Rehabilitation Act by harassing an employee with a disability-related need to wear a mask or take other COVID-19 precautions.
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