What employees should know about the Zika virus

The Zika virus, a disease linked to birth defects, has garnered headlines in the past few weeks because of how it may become an epidemic. It is reportedly transmitted through mosquito bites and has been linked to several South American countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged women planning on getting pregnant to avoid travelling to nearly a dozen countries in the southern hemisphere.

The newest recommendations bring about questions as to what employers may do regarding employees’ travel to these regions. This post will provide some basic guidance on this issue. 

Don’t limit restrictions to women – Companies that have employees travel internationally cannot forbid pregnant women from travelling  to areas where the Zika virus is a concern. While it may seem like a good idea to do so, it may be viewed as a paternalistic move that constitutes gender discrimination. If any travel restrictions are imposed, they must apply to both men and women.

Don’t require relocation – Employees who are already working in areas where Zika is a concern should be wary of areas where mosquitoes could be a problem. However, employers cannot require employees to relocate.

Accommodate travel refusals – If an employee has a reasonable belief that performing their job could result in imminent death or serious injury, an employer must honor the employee’s request if he or she refuses to travel to an area affected by the Zika virus.

Medical exams – If an employee has recently traveled to an area here the Zika virus has been identified, an employer cannot impose medical exam or impose a quarantine unless there a reasonable belief that the employee poses a direct threat to other employees. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Contact Us - Free Initial Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Pasadena Office

128 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Suite 204
Pasadena, CA 91103

Toll Free: 866-457-2590
Phone: 626-381-9261
Fax: 626-577-7079
Pasadena Law Office Map

Downtown Los Angeles Office (Legal Fund)
250 1st Street, Suite 1201
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Phone: 213-785-6999
Los Angeles Law Office Map