A year of hurricanes, fires, explosions and mass shootings has shown that employers are ill prepared for a new type and volume of catastrophes - and in fact may not even recognize the next big catastrophe coming. It's time to plan, and to be creative.
As we expected, the concerns raised by the NYC physician testing positive after returning from aiding West African Ebola sufferers triggered a legal response to more aggressively quarantine certain categories of people rather than waiting until they develop a fever or present other symptoms. New York and New Jersey implemented strict institutional quarantine for individuals returning from providing aide in those countries and applied it to a returning nurse.
I’ve been dealing with the employment aspects of infectious disease scares since 1984 when AIDS first reared its evil head. Every permutation of the flu, be it avian or swine, has had the same effect on the public, the government, and business. We get to a stage where we realize that there is a lot that we don’t know and it scares us. This is the legally dangerous stage where organizations make knee-jerk decisions that are not based on objective individualized analysis and the current public health guidance. We realize that the guidance from the CDC, EEOC and OSHA is not yet specific or practical enough.