The Elements of a Communicable Disease Policy
Paradoxically, the more the law stresses individual evaluation, the more the employer must rely on carefully drafted written policies. Individualized evaluation makes it easier for the employee to contest the employer’s standards. Although the employer may ultimately prevail in court, careful adherence to written guidelines can discourage attorneys from difficult-to-win lawsuits. If this policy is to be credible, it must be developed before the business is embroiled in controversy over potentially discriminatory actions against disease carriers.
Following is a framework for a disease control plan based on the analysis suggested in the Supreme Court decision in Arline. A completed disease control plan must detail the actual circumstances of the company and diseases that pose a risk in that environment. There are guidelines for control of tuberculosis (TB) and of bloodborne pathogens, but other communicable diseases should be considered as well. The medical information should be based on CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommendations and the American Public Health Association publication, Communicable Diseases in Man. The workplace- specific parts of the plan are more difficult. Although many large companies have a corporate policy on AIDS, these plans are usually equal employment guidelines with no reference to other diseases.