Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Infectious Diseases and the Workplace

  • I am not feeling well and want to call out of work. How much information can my employer ask me about my condition?
  • Can my employer force me to stay home from work if I, or one of my family members, contracts an infectious disease?
  • Can my potential employer require me to undergo a medical examination after being hired, but before I start work to determine if I have been exposed to an infectious disease?

I am not feeling well and want to call out of work. How much information can my employer ask me about my condition?

CDC recommends that employers not require a note from employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness because health care providers may be extremely busy responding to other health needs.

The ADA prohibits employee disability-related inquiries or medical examinations; however, employers may ask such employees if they are experiencing COVID-19, such as fever or a cough and shortness of breath. Employers must maintain all information about employee illness as a confidential medical record in compliance with the ADA.

Can my employer force me to stay home from work if I, or one of my family members, contracts an infectious disease?

Yes, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer may force an employee to stay home if the employer believes that the employee will pose a direct threat to the workplace due to having or being exposed to, a serious infectious disease. This includes employees that are still willing and able to work. Many diseases are very infectious. For example, the Measles virus can be caught if you enter a room where an infected individual was located thirty minutes ago. Sometimes the best way an employer can prevent the threat of exposure to all employees is to require one employee to stay home from work.

Can my potential employer require me to undergo a medical examination after being hired, but before I start work to determine if I have been exposed to an infectious disease?

Yes, the ADA does permit potential employers to require medical examinations of entering employees after they have already extended an offer of employment. However, employers cannot administer these medical exams in a discriminatory fashion and must require these medical exams from all new employees in the same job category.

Thought of the Week

"In the wake of COVID-19, governments around the world have called on people to take one most important action: to stay home. But for many workers, staying home has meant losing their jobs, and as a result, losing their livelihoods. Domestic workers have proven essential in the work they do for households around the world. The current pandemic has laid bare their vulnerability to crises, and the impact that can have both on their own families, and on the families for whom they provide care. By ensuring their health and livelihoods, we can ensure a healthier world and social justice for all."

–International Labour Organization

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from International Labour Organization

    Domestic Worker Statistics

    • 10% of domestic workers have access to social security.
    • There are at least 67 million domestic workers worldwide
    • 1 in 25 woman workers in the world is a domestic worker

    Archive

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