Measles in Texas Workplaces
Feb. 10, 2015
These days, Texas employers must even worry about having a policy for measles at work. There are no measles court cases to guide employer's behavior yet but there are a few laws and policies that guide the way employers should react to their first suspicion of measles in the workplace:
First, remember that you may not exclude people from the workplace for non-vaccination if their non-vaccination is related to their religion or even their national origin (legal immigrants should all have have vaccinations we regard as typical).
Many anti-illness policies already in place, such as those designed for the flu, may adequately cover things like measles outbreaks. If, for example, you require that employees not return to the workplace until they are not contagious, employees with the measles should not return to work until they are symptom free for four days.
Education is not illegal. If there is a particular virus, such as measles, in your area consider an education campaign to let your employees know what the symptoms of that virus are. This way, employees will be more self-aware and more likely to address an illness early and aggressively.
It may be possible for workers to claim Worker's Compensation if they contract measles at work. It is probably not, however, a recordable workplace illness unless you have a clear outbreak.
Notifying employees of an outbreak can be extremely tricky and may violate HIPPA, ADA, or other privacy laws. It may also set the infected employee up to be be subject disability related discrimination. Again, education may be the best approach to this. Larger employers may also be able to make statements like "There was a confirmed case of measles in our workplace;" however, I caution smaller employers from making such statements if it is obvious which employee is absent from work.
The Lynch Law Firm is available to help employers deal with measles or other workplace illnesses in an appropriate and feasible way. Please give us a call.