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Customers calling on businesses to disclose if an employee has COVID-19

Advocates want paid sick time law left as is
Posted at 6:37 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 18:37:49-04

LANSING, Mich. — There is concern that businesses aren't disclosing whether an employee has the Coronavirus.

Customers said the public has a right to know.

Rolf Lowe an attorney at Wachler and Associates said some businesses like grocery stores don't have a legal obligation to disclose if an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The pandemic has left only essential businesses open, but some customers would want to know if an employee tested positive for the virus.

Bill Rolston a resident in Napoleon said, "It's all about risk mitigation. Why should I frequent a business that has known to have employees with COVID-19? I mean you should have the right to know that."

Legally, business owners are not obligated to make it public.

Lowe said they can post a notice informing their customers, but it is up to the business to decide to do that.

However, Lowe said it could be bad publicity for the business.

"An owner doesn't want to create a bunch of liability especially in the times when they're facing economic hardships already. So they need to consult with their council and figure out what the best course of action would be."

Rolston said he would still visit a store as long as they deep clean the store once the employee leaves the facility.

Another concern for businesses is providing too much information and getting into a legal battle for HIPAA violations.

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

It protects the health information of individuals and prevents others from disclosing that information.

If an employee is sick, the owner or other fellow employees cannot disclose personal information about that person like their name.

Lowe said, "The ability of some entity to release specific private information of an individual is very hard to understand from an individual who is not familiar to the industry. They may think they should have access to everything and that is just not the case. It needs to be disclosed when it's necessary."

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