The CDC is encouraging employers to develop and implement procedures to check for signs and symptoms of employees returning to the workplace. In most circumstances, under the Americans with Disability Act, a requirement that all employees submit to a “medical examination” to return to work is not permitted unless it is job related and consistent with business necessity. However, because COVID-19 is deemed a direct threat to the health of others at the workplace, employers are permitted to screen and test all employees for COVID-19 prior to their return to the workplace without violating the ADA.
The employer is only permitted to seek information relating to COVID-19 symptoms. Additionally, employers must use reliable and accurate tests when conducting COVID-19 symptom testing to employees before entering the workplace.
The ADA requires that all medical information about a particular employee, an employee’s statement that he has the disease or suspects he has the disease, or the employer’s notes or other documentation from questioning an employee about symptoms must be stored separately from the employee’s personnel file, thus limiting access to this confidential information.