The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down when it comes to work environments, and the guidelines employers must now follow if they want to keep their workers safe and COVID free. The EEOC, or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has passed down firm guidelines to prevent employees from being discriminated against while trying to return to work.
New Guidelines from the EEOC
The new guidelines passed down from the EEOC are designed to protect the companies and the employees, but each to a specific degree. For example, if an employee has a family member who may be at risk if exposed to the COVID virus, they may request the option to work from home.
While they can make the request, the EEOC leaves the decision up to the employer, but it does not require the company to offer the work from home option. The EEOC does, however, encourage employers to work with each employee on an individual basis.
Following Best Practices
In terms of best practices, both the ADA and the EEOC encourage employees to request possible accommodation before returning to work. Safety in the workplace is a must and mandatory from the perspective of the local, state, and federal health agencies.
With that being said, all employees concerned about being exposed to COVID-19 in the work environment can make a personal request to their employer for accommodations. These accommodations may include continued work from home options or flexibility in terms of scheduling. Companies must provide employees with information about who to contact to discuss these interactive measures.
Disabilities and Discrimination
Individuals with disabilities and other health concerns may not be discriminated against due to any COVID-19 related issue if they make the personal choice to return to work. This includes pregnant women. Individuals who are 65 years of age and older already have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19, but their right to work is also inherent.
In these situations, the EEOC encourages employers to be as flexible and lenient as possible, so that every employee has an equal opportunity to maintain their work schedule and pursue their chosen career.
Gaylord & Nantais are workers’ compensation attorneys who serve the Los Angeles communities. They have a wealth of experience you can rely on if you feel your employer is not complying with the guidelines put forth by the EEOC or other state and federal agencies that support your right to work. Call and schedule a consultation today so you can protect your rights as a valued employee.
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