Page 30 - Wire Rope News & Sling Technology - April 2020
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continued from page 28             widely. Some Federal laws may also   nesses must avoid any actions that are
         dividual’s right  to  privacy regarding   apply. “Bear in mind that under the   discriminatory,  consciously  or other-
         their personal medical situation.”   Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),   wise.  “Although  it is  okay  to ask  em-
           There is only a limited number of   employers are generally not allowed   ployees  if  they  have  traveled recently
         health-related questions employers are   to make  disability related inquiries   to high risk locations, and to tell them
         permitted to ask employees, says Sholin-  about preexisting health conditions   to self-quarantine for a two-week peri-
         sky. “If someone was quarantined after   or other private medical information,”   od, you have to apply the policy without
         traveling to a country with elevated risk,   says Deng. The law also prohibits giv-  reference to race, ethnicity or national
         for example, and shortly after returning   ing a medical exam. “It’s allowable to   origin,” says Deng.
         to the office they are out sick, it would be   ask employees if they have a cough or   The need to avoid discrimination
         appropriate to ask whether they are ex-  fever, or shortness of breath. But you   speaks to a practical issue: The novel
         periencing flu-like symptoms, and if they   may have issues under the ADA, or un-  coronavirus  causing  COVID-19 can
         are whether they have visited a doctor or   der state laws,  if  you  take their  tem-  strike any individual regardless of
         been tested for COVID-19.”         perature or do any other screening that   background.  “Just because people are
           Once obtained, personal medical infor-  might be construed as a medical exam.”  of a certain race or national origin does
         mation should be kept safe from dissem-  One exception to this rule, says Deng,   not mean they have a higher chance of
         ination. “If you are requiring employees   is if there is a “direct threat” to the work-  infection with the virus,” says Sholin-
         to make declarations about their travels   place,  such  as  development  of  a  pan-  sky.  “Companies should  be careful  to
         or their health conditions, you need to   demic in your area. “You are allowed to   not make such assumptions.”
         be  careful  about  how  the  information   make medical inquiries and ask about   PROTECT CUSTOMERS
         is  collected  and  disclosed,”  says  Deng.   disability related matters if there is no   Employees are not the only people
         “Handle the information with respect to   other way to get information that will   subject to health risks from workplace
         COVID-19 in the way you would handle   protect the workforce. Assessment as to   infection. Businesses need to also pro-
         any other personal information.” That   what constitutes a direct threat should   tect anyone who comes into contact
         means restricting information to those   be based on objective factors. Be in-  with staff members.
         with a need to know. “If you send some-  formed about what CDC guidelines and   “To the extent the business is a place
         one home with symptoms, the only peo-  what local and state authorities tell you.   of public accommodation, employers
         ple who should know about it are those   That will inform your duty and level of   need to be mindful of the risks to cus-
         individuals  who  have  come  into  direct   care with respect to workforce.”  tomers,  vendors  and other  visitors,”
         contact with the person.”            AVOID DISCRIMINATION             says Sholinsky.  “If asked what the
           All actions must conform to state and   In carrying out the policies and pro-  company is doing to protect against the
         city employee privacy laws, which vary   cedures described in this article, busi-      continued on page 78
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