Given the widespread presence of the H1N1 virus in several
countries, the CDC declaration of a public health emergency in the USA and the
WHO position suggesting that a pandemic is imminent, public
health officials, businesses and others should now focus on disease response and
Some of the legal issues that businesses should address when preparing
emergency plans or policies or when actually responding to a pandemic include:
- Your legal duties and leeway under Occupational Safety and Health Act
(OSHA), American with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
and other federal and state regulatory hurdles.
- Your ability to require workers to submit to medical tests, wear
protective equipment, or take time off. Relevant legal issues in buying and
distributing antiviral drugs or protective equipment.
- Your ability to announce information within the business or publicly on
suspected or verified cases among workers.
- Potential impacts to your benefit programs and related fiduciary
- Options and obligations should your customers or suppliers fail to
perform their contracts or you believe they are likely to fail.
- Options and obligations should your business become unable to perform
- Required disclosures to regulatory agencies or to prospective investors.
- Options and obligations should government orders impose isolation,
quarantine, travel or other restrictions that affect your business.
- Practical and legal implications if the government has identified your
industry as part of the ‘critical infrastructure’.
- Options and obligations to develop or improve your pandemic plan, and
the legal implications of your choice.
McGuireWoods counselors and advocates have experience in planning and actual
response to H5N1 (Avian Influenza), nationwide food-contamination and other