How Employers Should React to the Zika Virus
Many headlines in recent months have been about a virus called Zika reaching the United States. Zika is widely associated with traveling to certain tropical regions of the world, but now cases have regularly been showing up in U.S. hospitals. This also means that people with Zika may be present in our workplaces and many employers may not know how to act. As employees, you should know that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways for your employer to act regarding the Zika scare and, if you believe your employer has acted wrongfully, you may want to discuss your case with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible.
Information About Zika
Zika is a virus that is primarily transmitted through mosquitos in certain areas of the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has specifically warned people who are traveling to these areas to be aware of the possibility of mosquito bites. In addition, the CDC has reported that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have been identified by the Florida Department of Health in two different areas of South Florida.
Mosquitoes are not the only way that Zika can be transmitted, however. A person carrying the Zika virus can also sexually transmit the virus to a partner. Furthermore, the main concern with Zika is that pregnant women can transmit the virus to their fetus. While Zika does not present serious symptoms in adults – if any symptoms exist at all – the virus can cause severe brain disease and debilitating birth defects in fetuses.
Zika and Your Employment
There are many concerns about how employers can and should act when it comes to the Zika virus. Some of the following are only some examples of recommendations for employer behavior:
Employers cannot demand that employees who have traveled to certain places provide medical information showing that they do or do not have Zika. Since Zika can only be transmitted through sexual contact or pregnancy, it is not considered to be dangerous enough in the workplace to require such medical information.
Employers should take certain steps to protect employees from work-related exposure to Zika, as provided by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Employers should listen to concerns about work-related travel to affected areas and consider each concern on a case-by-case basis.
Employers cannot ban only female employees from traveling to certain areas, as that would constitute gender discrimination.
Call a Florida Employment Attorney for More Information About Employee Rights Today
There are specific standards for the way employers must act in regard to their employees and illness or risks of illness. If you believe that your employer may have acted inappropriately in regard to Zika exposure or any other health risks, you should call a skilled employment lawyer in Florida to discuss your rights and options. At the wage and employment law office of Robert S. Norell, we are committed to protecting the rights of Florida employees against employers who are acting unreasonably or unlawfully. Please call to discuss your case for free at 305-405-9243.