Does my employer have to provide a facemask that meets my disability needs if they require face coverings on the job?
As of September 18, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have offered guidance on business reopening. Both agencies have stated that employers may require employees to wear cloth facemasks. While these masks have been judged effective in lessening the spread of COVID, OSHA does not consider them personal protective equipment (PPE) and therefore businesses do not have to provide face coverings to their employees or ensure that these coverings are adequate. In terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), EEOC guidance does state that if an employee needs a modification or an alternative to protection due to a disability, then the employer should discuss the request and provide a modification or an alternative assuming it does not cause an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business. If the employer has chosen to provide facemasks for employees, an accommodation request to provide the same to meet a person’s disability needs must be considered.