Can an employer require a doctor’s note if an employee was exposed to a common contagious sickness and who is resposible for the cost?

My sister and I work for the same restaurant. She caught Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and was taken off the schedule until she exhibits no more symptoms as per her doctor. I do not show any of the symptoms but my boss took me off the schedule until I can provide them with a doctor’s note saying that I do not have the sickness. In order for the doctor to provide the note, they must perform a complete physical. Since the my employer will not compensate for the required doctor visit, this has create a financial burden to me for not having insurance and lost of wages from this part-time job.

Asked on May 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer may do this, and it may require you to pay the cost. An employer is free to set conditions for employment, such as providing evidence of good health, that you are free from certain conditions or illnesses (IF said conditions or illness would pose a significant financial or liabilty risk to the company), had certain innoculations, etc. While there are some restrictions growing out of certain limitations on discriminating against the disabled or (in some states) discriminating against people on the basis of genetic background or related grounds, these restrictions can be overcome if there is a compelling reason for the employer action. Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease can be devasting to a restaurant--if patrons or customers contract  it and it can be traced back to the restaurant, the restaurant can lose thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of business and potentially be sued as well. Therefore, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an employee may have been exposed to it--such as that his/her sister had the disease--the employer may require the employee to provide some proof that he/she does not have the disease, at the employee's own expense.


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