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Workplace violence and the corona virus

Has an employee who goes to work with the coronavirus aka COVID-19 and who infects a co-worker with this incurable, potentially fatal disease engaged in workplace violence?

The answer is "possibly."

Consider how the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") defines workplace violence.

According to OSHA:

"Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. It can affect and involve employees, clients, customers and visitors. Acts of violence and other injuries is currently the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States." (Emphasis added).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") and other expert sources advises that the corona virus is spread from one person to the next through a physical act.

Per the CDC:

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)...

  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Summary

Bearing OSHA's definition of workplace violence in mind and how the virus spreads per the CDC, it appears that an employee who goes to work infected with the coronavirus and transmits the disease through a physical act to a co-worker could possibly be deemed as having committed an act of workplace violence.

Sources:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html