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EEOC Guidance: Pandemic, Hiring, and Onboarding Issues

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued FAQ guidance about how companies should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal fair employment laws while also respecting workplace safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FAQs were originally released on March 17, 2020, and were most recently updated on March 14, 2022. 

In section C of the guidance, the EEOC clarifies how employers may handle situations in which an applicant or newly hired employee has COVID-19 or its symptoms. The FAQs in section C also explain how employers may screen applicants for COVID-19.

This Compliance Overview provides the five FAQs currently contained in section C of the EEOC’s full COVID-19 guidance, as updated on March 14, 2022.


C. Hiring and Onboarding Employees During the COVID-19 Pandemic

C.1. (Updated Dec. 12, 2020): If an employer is hiring, may it screen applicants for COVID-19 symptoms? 

Yes. An employer may screen job applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a conditional job offer, as long as it does so for all entering employees in the same type of job. This ADA rule applies whether or not the applicant has a disability. For information on the ADA rules governing such inquiries and examination, see section A of the EEOC’s full COVID-19 guidance. 

C.2. May an employer take an applicant’s temperature as part of a post-offer, pre-employment medical exam? 

Yes. Any medical exams are permitted after an employer has made a conditional offer of employment. However, employers should be aware that some people with COVID-19 do not have a fever.

C.3. May an employer delay the start date of an applicant who has COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it? 

Yes. According to current CDC guidance, an individual who has COVID-19 or symptoms associated with it should not be in the workplace.

C.4. May an employer withdraw a job offer when it needs the applicant to start immediately but the individual has COVID-19 or symptoms of it? 

Based on current CDC guidance, this individual cannot safely enter the workplace. Therefore, the employer may withdraw the job offer.

C.5. (Added April 9, 2020; Updated Dec. 12, 2021): May an employer postpone the start date or withdraw a job offer because the individual is 65 years old or pregnant, both of which place them at higher risk from COVID-19? 

No. The fact that the CDC has identified those who are 65 or older, or pregnant women, as being at greater risk does not justify unilaterally postponing the start date or withdrawing a job offer. However, an employer may choose to allow telework or to discuss with these individuals if they would like to postpone the start date. For more information on potential issues regarding discrimination based on age or pregnancy, see sections H and J of the EEOC’s full COVID-19 guidance. 


Section C of COVID-19 FAQs 

Section C of the EEOC’s guidance on COVID-19 and fair employment laws includes 5 FAQs about handling issues related to new hires during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance on Hiring and Onboarding 

Among other things, the FAQs in section C of the EEOC’s FAQs clarify that employers may: 

  • Screen applicants for symptoms of COVID-19 after making a job offer, as long as they do the same for all entering the same type of job; 
  • Delay the start date of an applicant who has COVID-19 or its symptoms; and
  • Withdraw a job offer made to an applicant who is needed immediately but has COVID-19 or its symptoms. 

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.