The information provided within this FAQ does not constitute legal advice. Employment law is complicated and appropriate legal assessment and advice can only be given based on knowledge of your specific facts and taking into account the rapidly evolving legal landscape. We strongly recommend before acting on the above you consult with an employment attorney.
Last updated: March 31, 2020
Can my employer require me to get tested for COVID-19 (Coronavirus) if I have symptoms?
Yes. The EEOC has determined that COVID-19 is a “direct threat” to employees and co-workers and that, as such, testing requirements for those exhibiting symptoms is not a violation of the ADA. Of course, employers should uniformly apply this standard to all employees.
Can my employer tell other employees that I have tested positive for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?
An infected employee should not be identified due to medical privacy considerations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as under protections guaranteed by the ADA , the FMLA, and other laws. Confidential medical information about the employee should not be shared. However, an employer may send out a generalized message to inform the workforce that there has been a reported case of COVID-19 (coronavirus), and identify steps being taken to address the issue, along with retraining on its infection control practices, including handwashing and sanitizing workplace areas.
However, healthcare providers are required to notify federal, state, and local health authorities of the diagnosis, and those authorities may provide additional guidance and requirements, including further notification, on-site medical questioning, or examinations. If an organization has not been contacted, the employer may initiate contact and seek further guidance.
How much information may an employer request from an employee who calls in sick, in order to protect the rest of its workforce during a Coronavirus-like event?
Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and issued attendant precautions, ADA-covered employers (private employers with 15+ employees and all state and local government employers) may ask if employees are experiencing the symptoms of the pandemic virus, including fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, or sore throat without violating the ADA. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.