COVID-19 Guidance for Employers from the California DFEH

COVID-19 Guidance for Employers from the California DFEH

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has published a series of Frequently Asked Questions addressing various employment issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DFEH is the California state agency in charge of enforcing the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which protects employees against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation from their employers.

The FAQs begin by reminding employers that discrimination against an employee because of their actual or perceived race or national origin – or their association (including marriage or cohabitation) with an individual on the basis of race or national origin – is unlawful.

Highlights form the FAQs include:

  • An employer may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills, coughing, or a sore throat.
  • The unique circumstances of a pandemic permit an employer to measure an employee’s body temperature for the limited purpose of evaluating the risk that employee poses to others in the workplace.
  • Employers may ask employees who are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to go home, and should evaluate whether such time at home must be paid.
  • Any information gathered or generated about an employee for these purposes must be maintained as a confidential medical record, and not simply stored in the employee’s personnel file.
  • If an employer learns that an employee has been quarantined or has come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus, “the employer will need to follow the most current local, state, or federal public health recommendations.” Employers may not confirm the health status of employees or communicate about their health.

The “DFEH Employment Information on COVID-19” FAQ document is available to download from the department’s website.

More information from the State of California and additional resources for employers and workers, can be found here: Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Resources for Employers and Workers.