H1N1 flu virus workplace rules now available for employers

McAfee & Taft employment attorney Tony Puckett was interviewed for an Oklahoman feature about guidelines recently issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addressing how employers’ policies on the H1N1 virus can remain compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“The ADA regulates when and how employers may require a medical examination or request disability-related information,” Puckett told The Oklahoman. “Such medical exams or disability information requests could include questions about an applicant or employee having the H1N1 virus.”

Puckett said that under the new guidelines, if an employer chooses to require influenza tests, “this policy must be applied consistently to all applicants in the same job category.”

“To require some applicants to undergo tests and exclude others would be a violation,” Puckett told The Oklahoman.

Puckett also discussed what infection control practices an employer can adopt during a pandemic, including encouraging or requiring employees to work from home.

“Employers may encourage employees to work from home based on information from public health authorities regarding pandemic conditions,” Puckett said. “However, an employer may not single out employees either to work from home or to report to work based on a disability or perceived disability.”