May an employer prohibit an employee from traveling based on concerns related to an infectious disease outbreak?
Author: XpertHR Editorial Team
No. Even though an employer may institute a blanket ban on work-related travel to areas affected by an infectious disease, the employer has little to no control over an employee's off-duty activities, including vacation plans. Therefore, an employer may not prohibit an employee from traveling to certain areas or countries.
An employer also may not impose safety-related travel or job restrictions on employees who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Even if the employer has the employees' best interests in mind, this type of "paternalism" has been declared illegal sex discrimination by the US Supreme Court.
However, an employer may take measures to educate employees about the symptoms and transmission of the disease as well as ways to protect themselves.