Employers must now justify COVID-19 testing, EEOC says

Employers must now justify mandatory coronavirus testing for workers, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a July 12, 2022 update to its technical assistance manual.

Until now, the commission took the position that the Americans with Disabilities Act standard for medical examinations always permitted employer worksite COVID-19 testing. 

Going forward, employers will need to assess whether current pandemic circumstances and individual workplace circumstances justify testing to prevent workplace transmission, the agency said. Specifically, an employer must show that testing is job-related and consistent with business necessity, as defined by the ADA.

EEOC offered factors to consider in this analysis, including guidance from public health authorities, community transmission levels, vaccination status and types of contacts between employees and others in the workplace.

“This change is not meant to suggest that such testing is or is not warranted; rather, the revised [guidance] acknowledges that evolving pandemic circumstances will require an individualized assessment by employers to determine whether such testing is warranted consistent with the requirements of the ADA,” EEOC said.

The commission’s update also included guidance on return-to-work standards, antibody testing, screening questions and testing for individual employees.