The One Coronavirus Precaution Your Boss Can't Make You Take
They can check your temperature, but your workplace can't require coronavirus antibody testing.
With many people returning to work throughout the United States, employers are taking new precautions to limit the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. While numerous workplaces are requiring employees to wear masks, socially distance themselves when possible, have their temperature taken, and even sign waivers before they begin their workday, there's a safety measure that employers can't legally require workers to submit to: taking coronavirus antibody tests at work.
Antibody testing determines whether or not an individual has antibodies—proteins produced by the body's immune system in response to pathogens including viruses and bacteria—that may render them immune to those illnesses in the future. While antibody testing has been suggested as a possible means of reducing the spread of coronavirus, as those with antibodies are less likely to become re-infected and infect others, new guidance from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not currently permit employers to make antibody testing a requirement for employees.
"The EEOC recent announcement is consistent with EEOC attempts to deter discrimination in the workplace," explains attorney David Reischer, Esq., CEO of LegalAdvice.com. "Antibody testing merely would assess whether a person has previously been exposed to COVID-19 and has no legitimate 'business necessity' or other 'job-related' reason to require such an examination before an employee can return to work."
However, while employers can't force employees to take antibody tests, that doesn't mean your coronavirus status can stay private in the workplace.
"There is a less restrictive measure in the form of viral testing to assess whether a person is symptomatic with the COVID-19 virus," explains Reischer.
In fact, the EEOC states that "an employer may choose to administer COVID-19 testing to employees before they enter the workplace to determine if they have the virus" as sick employees—even if they're asymptomatic—may pose a threat to the health of others. So, feel free to say no if you're asked to submit an antibody test—but know that plenty of other invasive new policies may still be on the table. And if you're considering getting tested on your own time, This Is the Only Reason You Shouldn't Get an Antibody Test.