Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back
Back

The Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Temperature Checks

Written by: Charla Bizios Stevens

Published in NEHRA News (5/21/2020)

In a guidance dated March 18, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) made it clear that employers are entitled to monitor employees’ temperatures during the pandemic in order minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits medical examinations unless they are job-related and consistent with business necessity, and taking an employee’s body temperature is regarded as a medical examination. Given recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the EEOC amended its previous guidance that prohibiting temperature taking to allow it in these circumstances. There are, however, a number of issues associated with temperature taking that which employers should consider.

Temperatures are Not Dispositive

As more is learned about the virus it has become clear that individuals may have a normal temperature yet still test positive for COVID-19.  Similarly, not everyone with a temperature may have the corona virus.  As a result, an employee’s temperature is only one factor to be considered in assessing risk.  Other measures, such as screening for symptoms and risk, may be more effective.

Use the Least Invasive Method

Most authorities recommend against oral thermometers and suggest utilizing no touch or “little touch” methods of taking temperatures.

Deciding Who Does the Screening

Employers who do not employ an occupational nurse should assign one person to do the screening at the commencement of a shift.  That person should wear protective clothing, be screened in advance to make sure he or she is not ill, and should require that employees maintain social distancing while waiting for the test to be administered.

Wage and Hour Issues

Employees should be considered to be “on the clock” while waiting for and being administered the test.  Employees sent home due to symptoms should also be paid for the time out of work, if possible. But what if an employee refuses to be tested?  The best approach there is probably to send the employee home without pay.

Confidentiality Concerns

Employers should be mindful of confidentiality at all times.  The person assigned to do the screening and record results should be admonished not to share them.  Records of screening results should be maintained in confidential medical files and not in employees’ regular personnel records.  The results of screenings should not be shared with co-workers.

Although taking an employee’s temperature is permissible and may be an appropriate to tool to guard against the spread of contagions among employees, it should be done carefully, privately, and with an understanding that it will not necessarily provide all the answers an employer needs.

Charla Stevens is a director at McLane Middleton and Chair of the firm’s Employment Law Practice Group.  She can be reached at (603) 628-1363 or [email protected].

Integrity and trust

At McLane Middleton we establish and maintain long-standing relationships with our clients to help us better achieve their unique goals over time. This approach to building trust requires that our esteemed lawyers and professionals use their broad, in-depth knowledge and work together with integrity to ascertain sound resolutions to legal matters for their clients.

Strength in numbers

McLane Middleton is made up of more than 105 attorneys who represent a broad range of clients throughout the region, delivering customized solutions. As a firm we are recognized as having the highest legal ability rating. The firm is rated Preeminent by Martindale Hubbell and is recognized as one of the nation's leading law firms in Chambers USA. Our attorneys are distinguished leaders in their respective practice areas.

Meet Our People

Commitment and collaboration

McLane Middleton's versatile group of attorneys and paralegals become trusted authorities on each case through collaboration. We work with our clients to learn their individual needs first and foremost and, together, we develop comprehensive solutions to their specific legal matters. This approach helps us exceed our clients' expectations efficiently and effectively, client by client, case by case.

Practice Areas

A history of excellence

McLane Middleton was established in 1919 in New Hampshire, and has five offices across two states. However, deep historical roots don't allow you to become innate. Our firm is organized, technological, and knowledgeable. Our history means we are recognized. But our reputation is built on the highest quality of service and experience in very specific areas of law.

The Firm

Intelligence paired with action

Our team continuously seeks opportunities to enhance their professional development and put key learnings to action. The pursuit of further insight guides us to volunteer service opportunities, speaking engagements, and teaching roles. Our lawyers are sought after thought leaders across their industries, and recipients of leadership awards throughout the region.