ADA Accommodations for At-Risk Employees: EEOC Reasonableness Standard, Return to Work Policies, Testing, Vaccines

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will provide employment counsel with advice on the current EEOC guidance related to reasonable accommodations required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), particularly how to address requests from high-risk employees. The panel will address potential discrimination claims and the effects of instituting a mandatory testing policy for highly transmittable diseases and when and if requiring vaccination for continued employment is legally viable.


The ADA was not amended due to COVID-19, but the pandemic has created new issues under the ADA. While the ADA requires reasonable accommodation, there has been little guidance from the EEOC on what this means in practice and how employers must act. COVID-19 has increased the number and classification of vulnerable employees as defined by federal law.

Employment counsel must be aware of the current EEOC guidance, initially issued on May 5, 2020, and updated as recently as December 16, 2020, addressing the ADA and COVID-19 directly. The initial EEOC guidance allowed an employer to ask employees deemed a "direct threat to self" to remain at home. Still, that position was later clarified that the "direct threat" standard is high. To meet this standard, the employer must show a "significant risk of substantial harm" to the employee due to COVID-19. If that assessment is met, the employer must attempt to find reasonable accommodation to reduce or eliminate the direct threat by engaging in the interactive process with the employee.

Employment counsel must advise employers and employees on how to engage in the interactive process. The analysis of an employee's request for reasonable accommodation must be made on an individual basis, analyzing the factors listed above to determine whether accommodations such as additional PPE, adjusted work schedules or location, or some other change could protect the employee without being an undue hardship to the employer.

In this evolving situation, employers must consider whether to require COVID testing for employees to return to work and, if so, put policies and procedures in place. Once an effective vaccine is readily available, employment counsel must offer guidance on the legality of requiring vaccination for continued or future employment.

Listen as our authoritative panel discusses the current state of EEOC guidance on the ADA and what employers can and should do when facing a return to work employee who is medically vulnerable. The panel will provide best practices and policies for compliance with the current laws and mitigate future lawsuit risks.



  1. ADA
    1. Determine reasonable accommodation
  2. EEOC guidance
    1. Direct threat assessment
  3. Other state and federal laws
  4. Testing and vaccination requirements
  5. Best practices and policies


The panel will review these and other crucial issues:

  • What is the current EEOC guidance on ADA reasonable accommodations and requests?
  • How has COVID-19 impacted ADA accommodation requests?
  • Can an employer require a negative test to return to the office? Can an employer require an employee to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
  • What other state and federal laws may impact a request for reasonable accommodation?


Conley, Jeanine
Jeanine Conley Daves

Littler Mendelson

Ms. Conley Daves has represented many of the nation’s leading companies in employment-related disputes and...  |  Read More

Lipomanis, Melanie
Melanie D. Lipomanis

Porzio Bromberg & Newman

Ms. Lipomanis is a member of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group and concentrates her practice on counseling and...  |  Read More

Mook, Jonathan
Jonathan R. Mook


Mr. Mook is a nationally recognized authority on the ADA and is the author of two treatises, “Americans with...  |  Read More

Access Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Video