The spread of the Zika virus in many parts of the world – now including Florida, according to the CDC1 – has caused alarm because of the tragic effects the virus can have if a pregnant woman passes it on to her fetus. Because Zika is only contracted by mosquito bites in certain parts of the world or by sexual transmission, many business owners may believe that Zika is not a concern. However, both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued guidance for employers across the United States regarding Zika.2 If you are a business owner and have any employees, you should ensure you are in compliance with the law when it comes to Zika concerns.
Safety at Work
All business owners should provide any outdoor employees with adequate insect and mosquito repellant and should encourage clothing that would provide a barrier to possible mosquito bites without the risk of overheating. Businesses should try to avoid having any standing water to prevent mosquito breeding grounds. If an employee is pregnant, may become pregnant, or is having sexual relations with a woman who is or may become pregnant, you should consider requests for reassignment to indoor job duties away from the risks.
Travel to Areas Affected by Zika
If your employees travel to any of the Zika-affected locations around the world, you should do the following:
Consider postponing or allowing employees to refuse travel for individuals who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are having sexual relations with a woman who is or may become pregnant;
Do not forbid travel to such locations only for women who are pregnant or of childbearing age but not for men, as this would constitute sex or pregnancy discrimination.
Discuss Your Concerns with a Houston Business Lawyer Today
At Weisblatt Law, we help business owners in and around Houston with a wide variety of legal matters, including legal compliance, employment issues, contract review, dispute resolution, business collection, and more. If you have any legal questions or concerns about Zika or any other matter regarding your business, please contact our office at 713-666-1981 to learn more about our services.
Attorney Andrew Weisblatt
Mr. Weisblatt has practiced continuously since becoming licensed in 1992 and has represented businesses ranging in size from one person start-up ventures to multi-national corporations employing hundreds of people in multiple countries. From 2005 through 2009 Mr. Weisblatt was in-house counsel and chief operating officer of a multi-national corporation in the steel products industry. That in-house position provided valuable insight into how businesses work and what they actually need from their lawyers – both in-house and outside counsel. Attorney Bio