As the deadly coronavirus becomes a global pandemic, companies like Apple and Starbucks have stopped operating in China, and others, like Sony and Amazon, have pulled out of global trade shows like this month’s World Mobile Congress in Barcelona.
The only opportunity for an employee who contracts coronavirus to seek damages outside of workers’ compensation is if their company has behaved recklessly—such as by ordering them to Wuhan, the epi-center of the virus. According to Jonathan Segal, a partner at the law firm Duane Morris, the fact the U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 advisory for China—a flat-out “do not travel” warning—means firms could face special liability in the event their employees contracted the virus.
“There’s the legal answer but, from a practical management point of view, you don’t want to force people who are scared into doing something,” says Neuberger.
Segal echoed this sentiment, saying “it’s a horrible message to the workforce” to order employees to travel when they are fearful of a pandemic.
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