Detroit Free Press: Bill Volz on ethical obligation to disclose COVID infections to employees

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases this summer among employees of Pontiac-based mortgage company United Shore has risen to 84, according to the Oakland County Health Division, which is still determining how many workers may have caught the virus inside the company's reopened headquarters. The outbreak of COVID-19 cases among employees of United Shore, a nationally ranked mortgage firm and competitor of Detroit-based Quicken Loans, is believed to be the largest to affect any Oakland County business since the pandemic hit, a county spokesman said. Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders, businesses are required to notify any co-workers, contractors or suppliers who may have come into contact with an individual who contracted COVID-19 within 24 hours of the case being identified. There is no requirement for businesses to announce the total number of employees who contracted COVID, according to a spokesperson for the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly known as MIOSHA. However, according to a Wayne State business professor, companies may have an ethical obligation to inform employees about COVID infections that happened in their workplace. “Is there a legal obligation to say how many people have been infected, I’d say no," said Bill Volz, professor of business law and ethics at the university's Mike Ilitch School of Business. "Is there an ethical obligation to keep your employees fully informed about the safety of their work environment, I’d say yes."

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