Health officials have identified that people with underlying conditions are at greater risk, conditions such as diabetes and compromised immune systems. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, accommodations must be made. But can an employer ask you if you’re at risk?

“It’s a violation of their privacy to ask any employee very specific questions about their health,” said Lori Costanzo. “If the employee wants to volunteer that information, that’s a different story.”

Costanzo is an employee advocate and attorney in San Jose. She and others say it’s a balancing act to make the workplace safe and to accommodate those with special needs without violating their privacy.

Both employers and employees have rights, but if they end up on a collision course, Costanzo thinks workers may have an advantage.

“I think the courts and the juries, in particular, are going to be very different moving forward, having gone through this,” she said. “And I think they’re going to be very sympathetic to employees who may have been forced to work in unsafe conditions.”


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