Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

On May 15, 2023, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a number of updates to its guidance titled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” to address the end of the federal declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11, 2023.

“This installment is the capstone to our comprehensive resource of questions and answers on COVID-19 and the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC. The end of the public health emergency is an important milestone,” EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows stated in a press release about the guidance that has key updates:

  • 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 canceling 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.

The EEOC – which advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination – updated the COVID-19 technical assistance approximately 20 times throughout the pandemic to respond to the evolving situation. More information about the EEOC is available at www.eeoc.gov.

COVID-19 is a potentially deadly respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of March 10, 2023, when Johns Hopkins University stopped compiling data, COVID-19 has caused 6.8 million deaths worldwide and 1.1 million deaths in the United States alone, the highest fatality figure for any country in the world.

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