Can employers make employees quarantine for two weeks before returning to work if they’ve attended a protest of more than 150 people? “Enforcement truly can be fraught with peril,” says Ron Holland of McDermott Will & Emery. (Credit: Brian Goff/

Here’s a hypothetical: You run an essential business in Naperville, Illinois, a city currently in Phase 4 of COVID reopening that bans gatherings of more than 50 people. Iowa allows large gatherings with no restrictions. It gets brought to your attention that John Smith, one of your employees, attended a political protest in Iowa over the weekend with 150 other people. John is set to return to work on Tuesday. Do you make John quarantine for two weeks before returning to work?

Thus began McDermott Will & Emery’s webinar, “Off-Duty Conduct: COVID-19 and Social Media Ranting—What’s an Employer to Do?” For an hour, members of McDermott’s employment group discussed topics around a question that is likely at the front of mind for many employers: As employees start slowly returning to work, what happens if an employee puts the safety of customers and their fellow employees at risk or hurts the company’s reputation outside of work hours?

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.

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