UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - Prince George's County – one of the places hit hardest by COVID-19 in our area – is requiring thousands of its employees to go through mandatory COVID-19 testing.
County health officer Dr. Ernest Carter says the goal is to get a baseline and find any asymptomatic cases among employees who interact with the public.
Employment attorney Scott Mirsky of the firm Paley Rothman says an employer absolutely has the right to require COVID-19 testing.
"It certainly is legal. The EEOC has issued some guidance that says that COVID-19 testing is permissible due to the pandemic and the possibility of exposure in the workplace."
In memos obtained by FOX 5, the county says employees in police, fire, and corrections are at higher risk of contracting the virus because of the work they do.
Dr. Carter also says COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in the county and employees need to be tested for their own safety.
This applies to firefighters, police, corrections employees, sheriff's deputies, and health department employees.
If employees don't get tested by the end of the month they won't be allowed to work.
D.C., Fairfax and Montgomery counties do not require this kind of mandatory testing for employees who do not have symptoms.
In addition to COVID-19 testing, Mirsky says employers have other options to help keep employees safe.
"Even if you are sending someone for COVID-19 testing, you still want to make sure that they're self-reporting, that they're at least taking their temperature at home, and monitoring themselves for symptoms on a daily basis before they report to work," he said.