There is a rash of outbreaks in the upper midwest right now (E. coli in Michigan, Norovirus in Illinois, and Norovirus in Indiana).  We learned yesterday about an E. coli outbreak linked to The Ambassador Restaurant in Michigan, which sickened 7 in late December.  (Question:  if the public was just informed about this outbreak, I wonder whether the victims know that the health department has determined the cause?)  And just recently 3 separate norovirus outbreaks occurred in Illinois (Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse) and at a Subway and Jimmy Johns in Indiana.

Norovirus is a much different animal than E. coli O157:H7, yet still able to cause severe disease.  Both bugs, however, at least in these outbreaks, appear to have been transmitted by sick employees who either didn’t observe a glove use policy, or failed to properly wash their hands after using the bathroom.

Seems like a simple matter, but history (i.e. many restaurant outbreaks) teaches that people are not universally capable of monitoring themselves in a restaurant setting.  Thus, it falls to the employer, exactly to whom it should fall, to ensure that employees simply aren’t working while ill. 

So, Jimmy John’s, Subway, Bob Chinns, and The Ambassador, what is your policy on paying workers during days that they are forced to take off due to illness?  If the answer is that that doesn’t happen, then why not?  It is a recipe for disaster.  These 4 outbreaks have caused over 300 illnesses.