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EEOC Provides Guidance to Clarify that the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Does Not End Employers’ Obligation to Provide Accommodations in the Workplace for Pandemic-Related Issues

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued updated COVID-19 guidance about the interplay of the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023 and employers' EEO obligations to employees still dealing with COVID-related issues. The EEOC makes clear that the end of the COVID-19 PHE does not mean that employers can automatically terminate reasonable accommodations that were provided to address employees’ pandemic-related issues.

For example, the guidance provides examples of accommodations the EEOC still deems reasonable for employees suffering from Long COVID to request of employers, including: (1) a quiet workspace; (2) use of noise cancelling devices; (3) uninterrupted worktime to address brain fog; (4) alternative lighting and reducing glare to address headaches; (5) rest breaks to address joint pain or shortness of breath; (6) a flexible schedule or telework to address fatigue; and (7) removal of “marginal functions” that involve physical exertion to address shortness of breath. The updated guidance also includes tips for employers to remain alert for COVID-19-related harassment of applicants or employees with a disability-related need to continue wearing a face mask or to take other COVID-19 precautions at work.

The new EEEOC guidance is available here.

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