Eeoc Guidance

Employees at high risk for COVID-19: What does the EEOC require of dental practices?

May 27, 2020
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued a COVID-19 guidance for employers. Here are resources to help dental practices understand the advisement and avoid potential liability.

As dental practices reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic, dentist-owners are faced with the challenge of bringing employees back into the office. One issue facing employers is making accommodations for employees who are at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued a guidance and subsequent clarifications on this issue.1 Below are useful resources that can advise dentist-owners on this topic.

  • On May 6, 2020, JD Supra published this post by Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP, titled, "Client Alert: Considerations for Employers for Returning to Work During COVID-19."3 Here is an excerpt: "Employers should also expect employees to request reasonable accommodations under the ADA. The EEOC has confirmed that employers must still participate in the interactive process in response to a request for accommodation. Employers should have standard forms to document the accommodation(s) requested and to obtain medical certification."
  • Time published an article on May 6, 2020, titled "Scared to Return to Work Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic? These Federal Laws Could Grant You Some Protections."4 The article uses an example of a dental hygienist. It looks at the EEOC guidance, as well as considerations pertaining to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The article also examines existing legal standards. Here is an excerpt: "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces workplace anti-discrimination laws, has said employers can test employees before allowing them back into the workplace, as long as the Food and Drug Administration determines the tests being used are 'accurate and reliable.' It has also said employers can take the temperatures of their employees, but must keep their health information confidential."

The updated EEOC guidance may be found here:


  1. Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act. US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Accessed May 26, 2020.
  2. Accommodating at-risk workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. California Dental Association. May 21, 2020. Accessed May 26, 2020.
  3. Client Alert: Considerations fro Employers Returning to Work During COVID-19. JD Supra. May 6, 2020. Accessed May 26, 2020.
  4. Carlisle M. Scared to Return to Work Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic? These Federal Laws Could Grant You Some Protections. Time. May 6, 2020. Accessed May 26, 2020.

Zachary Kulsrud is the group editorial director for Endeavor Business Media's dental group, publishers of Dental EconomicsDentistryIQPerio-Implant Advisory, and RDH magazine.

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Morning Briefing, a daily newsletter published by Dental EconomicsDentistryIQPerio-Implant Advisory, and RDHLearn more and subscribe here. 

For full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, visit the DentistryIQ COVID-19 Resource Center.