Q: Hospital directing family member with Asthma to treat COVID patients.
RN nurse has asthma and their usual job is in a orthopedic surgical facility. The facility has been shuddered temporarily and all nurses are reassigned to the main hospital to be placed in care of COVID-19 patients. Hospital has refused to place in a position away from contact with the patients. Discussions with management has only resulted in guidance that people who refuse the assignment will be terminated. Hospital will not allow a no work with no pay situation. They are considering turning in their notice and leaving along with losing their retirement and benefits to keep from contracting a virus that could be very deadly due to their pre-existing condition. Any recourse? I have made a suggestion of properly serving the hospital notice of her condition and they would then possibly consider a job away from the patients for fear of civil liability. Would that be a good practice?
A: The nurse could submit a request for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, requesting that she be placed in a role allowing her to work without coming into contact with the patients. The request should be accompanied by a doctor's note explaining her condition and explaining the risk of her coming into contact with COVID-19 patients. However, if there is no such position available right now, the ADA does not require the employer to create one.
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