- Employers subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may not require that workers submit to a COVID-19 antibody test, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in a June 17 announcement.
- An antibody test constitutes a medical examination under the ADA, the commission said. And because it doesn’t meet the law’s "job related and consistent with business necessity" standard, employers cannot require the test as a condition workers must meet before returning to work. COVID-19 tests and temperature checks constitute medical exams, too, but EEOC said they satisfy that threshold.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) previously said antibody tests shouldn’t be used to make return-to-work decisions, and EEOC said its position was reached in light of the CDC’s statement. The commission, however, said it will continue to closely monitor the CDC’s recommendations, and could update its guidance if CDC changes its position.
While employers may not condition employees’ returns to work on antibody tests, businesses remain free to test workers for active infections, according to EEOC.
But employment experts have cautioned that such tests, if adopted, should only be one part of a multi-pronged reopening plan — and some employers have expressed concerns about accuracy and logistics.
Some say they’ll rely on a combination of measures, such as tests and temperature checks, as part of contact tracing. Some also say they’re aiming to stem novel coronavirus spread with mask policies, physical barriers and plans to return employees to the worksite in shifts.
Perhaps the most crucial part of any reopening plan, however, is communication, experts previously told HR Dive. Workers will need timely, transparent information about an employer’s safety measures and its expectations for workers’ returns, they said.