The EEOC’s new FAQs provide examples of COVID-19-related actions that could be unlawful retaliation under federal fair employment laws.
On Nov. 17, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about how employers can avoid violating anti-retaliation provisions under federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new FAQs, which were added to the EEOC’s existing guidance on COVID-19 and fair employment issues, address the rights of employees and applicants who believe they suffered retaliation for protected activities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or other employment discrimination laws.
Retaliation and Interference Guidance
Among other things, the new FAQs clarify that:
- Anti-retaliation provisions of federal EEO laws protect not only applicants and current employees but also former employees;
- The ADA prohibits not only retaliation for protected EEO activity but also “interference” with an individual’s exercise of ADA rights.
The new FAQs do not create any new obligations or change any existing rules for employers. Instead, they explain existing provisions and how they may apply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers should become familiar with the EEOC’s full guidance and review their policies to ensure compliance.