Topic of the Week Infectious Diseases and the Workplace
Getting sick can sometimes cause far more problems with your employer than you might imagine. Can you be fired for getting sick, or forced to stay home when a family member is sick? What do you do if you contract a serious contagious illness? What can employers do when there is an identified health risk or pandemic in the news, like swine flu, Ebola, or measles? It is important for workers and employers alike to know what employment actions are lawful in the face of serious illnesses, and how individuals and companies can protect themselves when infectious diseases are going around.
1. Is my boss required to grant me leave if I have been quarantined due to an infectious disease?
Many states do not have laws preventing employers from firing someone who is quarantined by the state, so long as there is no contract or union agreement. However, the some states do have laws that prevent employers from firing any employee or any full-time employee. However, some states do have laws that prevent employers from firing any employee or any full-time employee.
2. If I am quarantined, what information can my employer share with my coworkers?
If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should not, however, disclose to co-workers the identity of the quarantined employee because confidentiality requirements under federal law, such as ADA, or state law may apply.
3. My coworker has been constantly coughing throughout the workday and I’m worried about getting sick, should I inform my supervisor?
Yes. If an employee arrives to work showing signs of an acute respiratory illness (such as cough or shortness of breath) or becomes sick during the day, the CDC recommends that the employee be separated and sent home immediately. Advising such workers to go home is not a disability-related action if the illness is similar to seasonal influenza or COVID-19. Additionally, the action would be permitted under the ADA if the illness were serious enough to pose a direct threat.
Thought of the Week
"In an ideal world, of course, being transgender would be about as relevant to the job application process as having brown eyes. But in the current environment, accepting the unfortunate inevitability—or at least, the likelihood—of being outed may be an important first step depending on one’s individual situation."
–Samantha Allen of the Daily Beast
Weekly Comic by Jerry King
Blog of the Week
Top Five News Headlines
List of the Week
from EVERFI, Inc.
Transgender issues in the workplace that include frequent discrimination and harassment.
While some trans friendly workplaces exist, tragically, transgender employees still frequently experience targeted harassment and discrimination in the workplace. While reported rates of such treatment vary, according to a 2011 survey, 90 percent of respondents claimed to have “directly experienced harassment or mistreatment at work.”
This harassment and mistreatment can manifest in a number of ways—survey respondents noted the following rates of mistreatment.
- 50% reported being harassment by coworkers
- 41% said they’d been asked inappropriate questions about their transgender or surgical status
- 23% said they’ve missed out on a promotion
- 20% said they were prevented from directly contacting clients
- 7% reported experiencing physical violence
- 6% being sexually assaulted