EEOC Declares That All High-Risk Employees Can Request Reasonable Accommodations at Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The EEOC has provided good news for workers who are at high-risk for COVID-19.  High-risk employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic!

High-risk employees include any employees over 65 years of age.

High-risk employees also include employees who have conditions the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found make them at high-risk for COVID-19. CDC website

This includes employees with any of the following medical conditions: liver disease, chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis, diabetes, severe obesity (body mass index measuring 40 or more), serious heart conditions, chronic lung disease, or asthma that is moderate or severe.

High-risk employees are also those who are immunocompromised.  According to the CDC, many conditions can cause an employee to be immunocompromised, so talk to your doctor about whether you are immunocompromised.  The CDC’s current website includes the following as examples of conditions that cause people to be immunocompromised:  smoking, cancer treatments, bone marrow and or organ transplants, HIV or AIDS that is not well controlled, and long term use of medications that weaken the immune system.

If you are high-risk, be sure to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer.  Your employer is obligated to engage in an interactive process with you to determine whether there is a reasonable accommodation for you.  Types of reasonable accommodations, depending upon your job and other factors, may include working from home, eliminating job functions that are not essential, time off, or a flexible work schedule.  The EEOC specifically urges employers and employees to look for  creative and flexible solutions that permit you to do your job safely.

An employer cannot retaliate against you or terminate your employment because you ask for a reasonable accommodation because you are a high-risk employee.  If your employer does, reach out to Siegel LeWitter Malkani for advice and be safe!