Measles Resurgence and Some Precautionary Thoughts for Employers

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed more than 465 cases of measles in 19 states from January 1 to April 4, 2019. This is already the greatest number of reported cases in the U.S. since measles was considered “eliminated” in 2000. States reporting cases include Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

If you learn that one of your employees has been diagnosed with measles, local public health departments may be able to provide guidance about the disease.

Regardless of whether the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) applies to you, other laws may apply. For instance, it is possible that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and/or applicable state and local laws similar to ADA, measles may be a “disability.” So, be very careful about whether you notify other employees of the situation and, if so, how you do it. If you decide to provide notice, keep the information to only scientific and medical information with potential precautionary measures that employees can take. You should not identify the diagnosed employee.

With regard to leave for the affected employee, the ADA, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and state and local leave laws may apply, and must be coordinated with employer-provided time off benefits. You may decide to allow concerned coworkers to use employer-provided time off benefits, too. A “direct threat” of harm may be posed for some coworkers vulnerable to infection. In these cases, contact Employers Council for assistance with the analysis.

Also, be cautious to not take adverse employment action against the diagnosed employee because of the diagnosis and/or any associated leave or other accommodations.