May an employer prohibit an employee, including a pregnant employee, from traveling based on concerns related to the Zika virus?

Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, XpertHR Legal Editor

No. Even though an employer may institute a blanket ban on work-related travel to areas affected by the Zika virus, it should not place travel restrictions on specific employees. An employer cannot prohibit an employee who has announced that she is pregnant or plans to become pregnant from traveling to an affected area. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, as well as various state and local laws, an employee is not required to accept accommodations that he or she does not want, even if an employer is offering the accommodation for the sake of the employee or the fetus' safety. If an employer imposes a travel restriction without the employee's consent, this may result in a gender or discrimination claim.

An employer may also not prohibit an employee from personal travel to an affected area.