contagious-240px-469829504Many Maine-based small business owners are involved in the food service industry. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publishes a Food Code for restaurants to protect the public from diseases that are transmissible through food. Owners of food service establishments need to make sure that any employees who handle food are not infected with the pathogens that can spread disease, whether or not that infection is temporary or long term.

To complicate things, it’s not a matter of simply not hiring or retaining infected people. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers specific guidelines for restaurants to follow.

Some key points from these guidelines, as discussed on the EEOC website are:

A restaurant business owner cannot ask applicants about their health, and any food-transmittable diseases they might have, during an initial job interview. This is prohibited by the Americans With Disabilities Act. During the first interview, the small business owner should simply decide if the candidate is qualified for the job.

If an applicant is diagnosed with an illness listed in the FDA Food Code, and is disabled by it, the small business owner must comply with ADA requirements. They can only cancel a job offer to such a person if there is not reasonable accommodation that could be made to eliminate the risk of transmitting the disease through food. They job offer could also be cancelled if such an accommodation would prove to be an undue hardship on the business.

Also, owners of food service establishments can require that current employees let them know if they have certain health conditions.

Remember, these are just a few of the key points. The hiring process can be complicated for small business owners. For more information about it, and the EEOC guidelines, contact Filler & Associates.