What you have to disclose to an employer when COVID-19 positive

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 4:53 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Many people think its a violation of their rights to be required to share when they’re sick with COVID-19 or their vaccination status.

A law professor with the University of Virginia breaks down what can, and can’t, be asked:

“The bottom line way of thinking about this is the employer is required to only reveal the minimal amount necessary to protect other workers or the public,” Margaret Riley with UVA School of Law said.

This means your employer is allowed to tell other employees if you have COVID-19.

“Your employer is supposed to have a rule asking you to inform them. They are, in turn, required to report any outbreaks that are work related,” Riley said. “Work related means it involves work, so it doesn’t necessarily matter where you actually contracted or were exposed to COVID.”

Riley says this is not a HIPAA or OSHA violation.

“OSHA is a federal statute that involves employers, and OSHA has been responsible for setting standards in the emergency,” the professor said.

Those rules include things like masking and distancing in the workplace.

HIPAA is different: “That actually involves when a health care worker is either disseminating or dealing with your private health information,” Riley said.

As a result, a business can require proof of vaccination.

“They are allowed to do that in Virginia. There are some states where you aren’t allowed to do that, but in Virginia a business is allowed to take any reasonable steps to protect other workers or the public in general,” Riley said.

If you have questions about what information you’re entitled to and what you have to disclose at work, your company’s HR can help.

“If you have an employer with a human resources office, I would start there and ask them to explain what the rules are,” Riley said.

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