News sources recently reported that one of the Dallas nurses infected with the Ebola virus visited a retail establishment before boarding a plane from Cleveland to Dallas. Since then, retailers and customers have been concerned about Ebola in the retail environment.

In addition to issues concerning customers’ fears of contraction, Ebola presents a variety of labor and employment law issues for retailers. These issues include: whether to restrict work-related or even personal employee travel to areas affected by Ebola; how to deal with employees returning from travel to areas affected by Ebola, including whether it is permissible to require them to stay home for a period of time or submit to a medical examination; and how to address concerns, or even a refusal to work, by employees who are afraid of working with co-workers or interacting with customers who may be suspected of having come into contact with Ebola through travel or otherwise.

As concern about Ebola continues to rise and the busy holiday shopping season has not yet started, now is a good time for retailers to prepare themselves on how to handle any issues that may arise in the workplace from the perspective of the retailer, the employee, and the customer. Retailers concerned with Ebola, or with pre-pandemic planning more generally, may find the following resources useful in preparing and implementing policies: