It has been a difficult time for many employers.  Some have had to close their businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and others who remained were faced with employees calling in sick.  Now that the governor of Georgia has announced the reopening of the state, employers may find themselves confronted with conflicting options.  If businesses do not reopen, they may be subjected to criticism from their employees or the public.  If they do re-open, they risk the possibility of employees and customers getting sick.  After all, it only takes one person, who may not be exhibiting symptoms, to spread the virus to others.  

While you cannot test customers for COVDS-19, the appears to permit you to require your employees to undergo testing for the virus. The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) allows medical testing of employees if the testing is “job related and consistent with business necessity.” Since COVID-19 can pose a threat to the health of others in the workplace, the EEOC announced  that employers may require testing of employees entering the workplace.  For additional guidance, please click here.  Employers must be careful to ensure that the tests administered are accurate and reliable.  Employers should follow the guidelines published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the CDC or other public health organizations related to testing.  Of course, testing an employee will only show whether or not the employee had the virus at the time the employee was tested.  The test, in no way, would indicate whether the employee would contract the virus in the future.  Certainly, if an employee or customer is positive for COVID-19, subsequent testing to determine whether other employees were also infected would be advisable.

Regardless of whether you decide to test employees or not, it is strongly advised that employers implement practices to help prevent transmission to the greatest extent possible.  Such practices require employees to maintain a minimum of 6’ of distance between each other; to wash their hands frequently, to wear suitable face masks, and to practice any other measures identified by the employer.