Although employees may be starting to return to the office, the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly not over. Making sure that employees in the office are not spreading the disease to their coworkers, who in turn bring it back to their families, is an important role for employers. One way to screen employees to help prevent those with active cases from entering the workplace is temperature screenings.
Taking employee temperatures is typically prohibited by the ADA, but the EEOC has issued guidance allowing employers to take employee temperatures during this pandemic. However, if an employer is going to perform temperature checks, every employee should be checked, or a nondiscrimintory plan should be used, such as screening workers that cannot work at a distance from each other.
The CDC has recommended the following steps for taking employee temperatures when they come into the office:
- Those in charge of screening should wear gloves
- Before checking temperature, screeners should look for visible signs such as flushed cheeks or fatigue (although we recommend asking employees politely about fatigue – nobody likes to be told they look tired)
- Screeners should be behind a barrier, such as a glass partition or window, and reach around or through to take employee temperatures
- Make sure the screeners change gloves in between checks unless the thermometer is non-contact or disposable
Some employees may refuse a temperature check. One way to prevent this situation is to clearly communicate the employer’s policy on the checks and screenings to employees beforehand, so employees with objections have time to discuss with their employer. If an employee refuses a temperature screening or will not answer questions such as whether they have COVID-19 or have symptoms of the disease, employers can refuse to permit that employee to enter the workplace.
Many states are enacting their own requirements for screenings, including Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. While Missouri and Oklahoma do not have state-wide orders, some local governments have imposed their own requirements. If you have questions about what your state or city provides, please contact one of our attorneys.
Disclaimer and warning: This information was published by McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, P.A., and is to be used only for general informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. This is not inclusive of all exceptions and requirements which may apply to any individual claim. It is imperative to promptly obtain legal advice to determine the rights, obligations and options of a specific situation.