Identifying an effective accommodation depends, among other things, on an employee’s job duties and the design of the workspace. An employer and employee should discuss possible ideas; the Job Accommodation Network () also may be able to assist in helping identify possible accommodations. As with all discussions of reasonable accommodation during this pandemic, employers and employees are encouraged to be creative and flexible. For general information on reasonable accommodation under the ADA, see Section D. Also, the undue hardship considerations might be different when evaluating a request for accommodation when teleworking rather than working in the workplace.

  • J.1 and J.2 address excluding employees from the workplace based on pregnancy and accommodating pregnancy.
  • An employee who was already receiving a reasonable accommodation prior to the COVID-19 pandemic may be entitled to an additional or altered accommodation, absent undue hardship.
  • This means that a pregnant employee may be entitled to job modifications, including telework, changes to work schedules or assignments, and leave to the extent such modifications are provided for other employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
  • For example, employers may not retaliate against employees who file charges with the EEOC alleging that their supervisor unlawfully disclosed confidential medical information (such as a COVID-19 diagnosis), even if the EEOC later decides there is no merit to the underlying charges.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits employment discrimination against individuals age 40 and older.

They are permitted between the time of the offer and when the applicant begins work, provided they are required for everyone in the same job category. For more information on the timing of disability-related inquiries and medical examinations for applicants, see Section C. The EEOC has provided guidance (a publication entitled Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act ) (“Pandemic Preparedness”), consistent with these workplace protections and rules, that can help employers implement strategies to navigate the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. This pandemic publication, which was written during the prior H1N1 outbreak, is still relevant today and identifies established ADA and Rehabilitation Act principles to answer questions frequently asked about the workplace during a pandemic. It has been updated as of March 19, 2020 to address examples and information regarding COVID-19; the new 2020 information appears in bold and is marked with an asterisk.

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Therefore, an employer may not discriminate based on age or pregnancy and related conditions. If an underlying medical condition is a disability, an employer must determine whether the individual’s disability poses a “direct threat” by starting work immediately and, if so, whether reasonable accommodation can be provided to sufficiently lessen or eliminate any risks without causing an undue hardship. For more information on assessing direct threat and reasonable accommodation in this situation, see G.4.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the Food and Drug Administration , and other medical and public health authorities have issued new guidance and updated some existing guidance as circumstances have evolved. Guidance from medical and public health authorities may be relevant to making certain legal determinations under one or more EEO laws (e.g., “direct threat” under the ADA). Because changes in such guidance may impact the legal assessments made under Title I of the ADA and other EEO laws, as discussed below, the EEOC recommends that employers and employees routinely check for guidance updates from CDC, FDA, and other medical and public health authorities.


Generally, measuring an employee’s body temperature is a medical examination. Because the CDC and state/local health authorities have acknowledged community spread of COVID-19 and issued attendant precautions, employers may measure employees’ body temperature. As noted above, even if the symptoms of COVID-19 occur intermittently, they will be deemed to substantially limit a major life activity if they are substantially limiting when active, based on an individualized assessment. An individual diagnosed with “long COVID,” who experiences COVID-19-related intestinal pain, vomiting, and nausea that linger for many months, even if intermittently, is substantially limited in gastrointestinal function, among other major life activities, and therefore has an actual disability under the ADA. An employee tasked to ensure compliance with a testing requirement for employees would need to review testing documentation submitted by those employees but must keep that testing information confidential. Some employees also may require assistance with transportation to vaccination sites.


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Retaliation protections also apply to job applicants and to former employees . In addition, these protections apply regardless of an applicant’s or employee’s citizenship or work authorization status. When making the request, employees do not need to use any “magic words,” such as “religious accommodation” or “Title VII.” However, they need to explain the conflict and the religious basis for it. However, documentation or other confirmation of vaccination provided by the employee to the employer is medical information about the employee and must be kept confidential, as discussed in K.4. The ADA also requires employers to keep any employee medical information obtained in the course of an employer vaccination program confidential.


Similarly, the fact that an employer regarded an applicant or employee as an individual with a disability does not necessarily mean that the employer engaged in unlawful discrimination. For example, the ADA does not require an employer to hire anyone who is not qualified for the job. Moreover, in some instances, an employer may have a defense to an employment action taken based on an actual impairment, such as where the individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of themselves or others in the workplace. Of course, coverage under the “actual” or “record of” definitions does not, alone, entitle a person to a reasonable accommodation. Individuals are not entitled to an accommodation unless their disability requires it, and an employer is not obligated to provide an accommodation that would pose an undue hardship.

Employers also may work with local public health authorities, medical providers, or pharmacies to make vaccinations available for unvaccinated workers in the workplace. Also, under certain circumstances employers may offer incentives to employees who receive COVID-19 vaccinations, as discussed in K.16 – K.21. The federal government is providing COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to everyone 5 years of age and older. The employer should specify if the point of contact is different depending on whether the request is based on disability, sincerely held religious beliefs, pregnancy, age, or child-care responsibilities. The obligation to provide religious accommodations absent undue hardship is a continuing obligation that allows for changing circumstances. Employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs, practices, or observances may evolve or change over time and may result in requests for additional or different religious accommodations.

COVID-19 Vaccinations:  EEO Overview

For example, employers may not require more burdensome processes for employees of a certain race or national origin who are requesting schedule changes or leave related to COVID-19 caregiving. Employers also may not deny such requests more frequently, or penalize employees for requesting or receiving schedule changes or leave for caregiving purposes, based on employees’ race or national origin. Discrimination based on citizenship or immigration status against workers with caregiving responsibilities also can be unlawful under a law enforced by the Department of Justice.

Nor do we see that two people leading the same active life develop bad hips or knees at the same time or to equal severity. Experience has shown us that more accountability equals better performance. By law, job applications from disabled people should be treated on an equal basis to those from non-disabled candidates.

The Supreme Court has held that requiring an employer to bear more than a “de minimis,” or a minimal, cost to accommodate an employee’s religious belief is an undue hardship. Costs to be considered include not only direct monetary costs but also the burden on the conduct of the employer’s business—including, in this instance, the risk of the spread of COVID-19 to other employees or to the public. GINA does not limit the incentives an employer may offer to employees to encourage them or their family members to get a COVID-19 vaccine or provide confirmation of vaccination if the health care provider administering the vaccine is not the employer or its agent.


Contractors can post this provision either physically on the premises or electronically. Congress should focus its efforts on providing equal access to good quality education and job skills. Federal Disability Laws and Regulationsthat provide the legal foundations of EEOC’s guidance and technical assistance materials.

Sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act includes discrimination based on pregnancy. Even if motivated by benevolent concern, an employer is not permitted to single out workers on the basis of pregnancy for adverse employment actions, including involuntary leave, layoff, or furlough. For more information on postponing a start date or withdrawing a job offer due to pregnancy, see C.5. An employee—or a third party, such as an employee’s doctor—must let the employer know that the employee needs a change for a reason related to a medical condition . While the employee does not need to use the term “reasonable accommodation” or reference the ADA, the employee may do so. An employer does not have to provide a particular reasonable accommodation if it poses an “undue hardship,” which means “significant difficulty or expense.” As described in the two questions that follow, in some instances, an accommodation that would not have posed an undue hardship prior to the pandemic may pose one now.

GINA And COVID-19 Vaccinations

Employers may gather and disseminate information to their employees on low-cost and no-cost transportation resources serving vaccination sites available in their community and offer paid time-off for vaccination, particularly if transportation is not readily available outside regular work hours. K.2 addresses pregnancy accommodation requests related to vaccination. Employers may provide any flexibilities as long as they are not treating employees differently based on sex or other EEO-protected characteristics.

In addition, accommodations may include telework, modification of work schedules (if that decreases contact with coworkers and/or the public when on duty or commuting), or moving the location of where one performs work . In most instances, federal EEO laws permit an employer to require employees to wear personal protective equipment (for example, masks and/or gloves) and observe other infection control practices . Some employers may need to comply with regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that require the use of PPE. OSHA regulations do not prohibit the use of reasonable accommodations under the EEO laws as long as those accommodations do not violate OSHA requirements.

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Employers should provide the contact information of a management representative for employees who need to request a reasonable accommodation for a disability or religious belief, practice, or observance, or to ensure nondiscrimination for an employee who is pregnant. Caregiver discrimination violates the laws enforced by the EEOC if it is based on an applicant’s or employee’s sex , race, national origin, disability, age , or another characteristic covered by federal employment discrimination laws. Caregiver discrimination also is unlawful if it is based on the caregiver’s What is EQUAL association with an individual with a disability, or on the race, ethnicity, or other protected characteristic of the individual receiving care. Under the ADA, such an adverse action is not allowed unless the employee’s disability poses a “direct threat” to the employee’s health or safety that cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodation. But, as the pandemic continues to evolve and new issues arise, it is possible that an agency may face new challenges that interfere with responding to a request for accommodation within an agency’s timeline.