The EEOC released updated technical guidance on COVID and Long COVID, essentially putting to a close to the many times this guidance has been updated.
While there are many tweaks to the guidance, most of the changes reflect the end of the public health emergency. The EEOC has noted that the key updates include:
- A recognition that 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 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 with Long COVID, the updates include common examples of possible reasonable accommodations, including 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 are low or no-cost accommodations.
- For employers, the updates include tips about remaining alert for COVID-related harassment of applicants or employees with a disability-related need to continue wearing a face mask or take other COVID-19 precautions at work.
For employers, the end of the pandemic, doesn’t mean the end of your obligations. But it doesn’t mean you have to overly complicate things as well. As we enter this new phase, just be mindful of your obligations under existing laws such as the ADA and Title VII.
And of course, for specific questions, be sure to consult your employment law counsel for particular guidance.