QuarantineWhat are the employment law consequences for a health care facility if a nurse needs to be quarantined because of virus exposure?

  1. Is there a workers’ compensation claim?

    Possibly. If the nurse is quarantined because she is showing signs of an infectious disease, then likely the nurse meets the requirements for an occupational disease acquired during the course and scope of employment. The trickier question is whether someone with no signs of infection — but is quarantined because of a possible exposure- is entitled to comp benefits. Arguably in that case there has been no injury and comp wouldn’t apply, but a smart employer might want to urge the application of comp benefits to avoid any claims of negligence by the employee against the employer for causing the exposure.

  2. Is FMLA leave required?

    Probably. If the employee meets the eligibility requirements for leave (enough hours, enough employees etc) then most likely the need for quarantine would be considered a serious health condition with or without symptoms because presumably even if not specifically ill the quarantine would still require some sort of medical monitoring that would qualify as an  “illness that requires three or more days of continuing medical treatment.”

  3. Is an ADA accommodation required?

    It depends. With out signs or symptoms of the disease, just exposure, the employee is not likely suffering from a disability that would require accommodation (in this case leave).  However, the exposure may be enough to have the employer regard the employee as disabled.  However “regarded as” cases do not require accommodation — just no discrimination.  That means that if a similarly situated non-disabled employee would have been given leave, the regarded as employee needs to be given leave, but not otherwise accommodated.