The swine flu pandemic is raising new privacy issues for corporate America (For an update on other employee privacy issues, see "Private Practices"). While employers may want to find out whether sick employees have swine flu symptoms and convey that information to other employees, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws limit the medical information employers can seek from employees and require them to keep such information confidential.
The EEOC issued guidance on this topic, advising that an employer can send employees home if they display influenza-like symptoms during a pandemic. It also said that employers may ask employees who report feeling ill at work or who call in sick if they are experiencing influenza-like symptoms, such as fever or chills and a cough or sore throat. However, some state laws are more restrictive than the ADA.