Zika Virus Could Bite Employers, Too, Attorney Says
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus.
Zika is in the news, the mosquito-borne illness that is linked to birth defects in children born to infected women, and so is this week’s missive from employment attorney Tom Spiggle of Spiggle Law Firm. “Employers are in a tough spot when dealing with the Zika virus and pregnant workers,” he writes.
“They can get sued for sending employees to Zika-infected areas and they can get sued for not sending employees to Zika-infected areas,” the Arlington, Virginia-based attorney writes.
Little is know with certainty about the virus and its transmission, he continues, but it’s a safe bet that sending a pregnant woman into a Zika-infected area “could result in a costly lawsuit if she becomes infected.”
“What is perhaps less well known is that an employer could be sued for declining to send a pregnant woman into a Zika-infected area,” he writes. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful for an employer to treat a woman different from a man.
So what should employers do, according to Spiggle? First, allow pregnant employees the same opportunities as non-pregnant workers regardless of the dangers involved. Second, educate all employees going to Zika-infected areas about the risks involved and the best practices for staying safe. He refers to the OSHA guidance on protecting workers from Zika infection as a good resource.