Business travel, coronavirus and workers comp – Jason Bent weighs in

By Jeff John Roberts
Feb. 12, 2020

Professor Jason Bent


The short answer, according to legal experts, is that workers can’t cite the coronavirus outbreak as a reason not to carry out their ordinary duties—including duties that involve general travel. While a federal law called the Occupational Safety and Health Act offers some protection to workers who refuse to work in the face of danger, those protections are unlikely to apply—at least for now.

Instead, the ordinary rules related to workers compensation are likely to apply to those who catch coronavirus on a business trip.

Law professor Jason Bent of Stetson University points to a 1989 case about a woman who contracted chronic respiratory illness after being exposed to Influenza B while traveling in Asia. The Supreme Court of Minnesota ruled the woman was eligible for workers compensation because she was on work-related business, and the disease was not one she would have contracted in the United States.

The complete article was originally published on the Fortune website on Feb. 12, 2020, with the headline, “My boss wants me to travel during the coronavirus. Do I have to go?