Are measles protected by the ADA? What do you think?

Are measles protected as a disability?
Are measles protected as a disability?

We have all heard about the resurgence of measles in the US, starting at Disneyland in California, but now spreading across the US. A recent case was reported in New York City. Since many people, especially Millennials were not vaccinated for it when younger some employers have expressed some concern about measles having an effect on their offices. Some of the advice that is being given out by “experts” sounded somewhat “spotty” (pun intended.)

Are measles victims protected?

In a Business Insider article, What companies can do about measles at work, the statement was made “Workers might bring lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, which prohibits discrimination on medical grounds in the workplace.” When I read this I had to tilt my head to the side and think about this. This is not quite what is protected by the ADA. The ADA protects people who have a disability that substantially limits a major life activity, or they have a record of such a disability or are perceived as having a disability. Although the ADAAA significantly changed the definition of “substantially limits” to make it a very loose interpretation I am not sure a case of measles would qualify.

Offer you opinion

If you are an attorney and deal in this area or you are in HR and have a legal opinion given to you I would appreciate you leaving a comment below and let us know what you think or have been told.
Another area that needs an opinion is whether you can ask if someone has had a vaccination or even require a vaccination. The person offering advice trots out he acronym of laws, ADA, HIPAA, and GINA, to say it is not legal to ask this question. HIPAA, definitely, the ADA possibly, but the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act? That may be a stretch. So how about a lawyer weighing in on that one too?

Good advice

One good piece of advice the “expert” did give was to educate your employees and tell them that if they are sick for any reason, or in particular know they have been exposed to measles, then don’t come to work until they know for sure. Naturally an attorney in Washington, DC said it would be the best course of action to put them on paid sick leave. Most companies have a sick leave policy or offer sick days. If you suspect measles that would be a good time to enforce the policy. It does not have to be the employee’s choice.

Calling all employment law attorneys

I am ending this by appealing to my attorney readers and asking for them to let us know what is the best course of action. My readers and yours would appreciate it.
Photo credit: MS Word clipart

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