A Morgan, Lewis & Bockius employee in the firm’s Philadelphia office has contracted COVID-19, the firm confirmed Monday.
The person, who the firm would not identify, had been in contact with a client who tested positive for COVID-19. The Morgan Lewis employee self-isolated last week after learning of the exposure then received confirmation of a positive diagnosis and has since showed little to no symptoms as the person isolates at home, a firm representative said.
The firm’s offices, including its Philadelphia location, remain open, although the firm has instituted a voluntary work from home policy for the next two weeks starting March 16. A firm representative said the remote policy was unrelated to last week’s positive diagnosis.
A firmwide voice-mail message sent late March 12 noted that CDC workplace guidelines do not recommend shuttering an office in the event that an employee contracts COVID-19. Regardless, firm employees were given the option to work from home with pay.
“The CDC has said that there is a low risk of transmission of the virus as a result of being in the same indoor environment as a person who has a confirmed and symptomatic case of the virus, even for a prolonged period,” the voice mail said.
“That said, while 1701 Market will be open, we are giving everyone who works in that building the option to stay home tomorrow, Friday, as a paid day if they choose to do so, even though it’s not necessary. The 1801 Market St. location will be open tomorrow,” the voice mail continued.
The firm is also deep-cleaning its offices daily in accordance with CDC guidelines. In addition to cleaning, the CDC says that employers must inform employees of their possible exposure while maintaining confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The agency also adds that employees exposed to a co-worker with COVID-19 should conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Morgan Lewis is not the first firm to grapple with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis among its ranks. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan temporarily closed its New York office in early March after a firm partner tested positive for COVID-19. Last week, U.K. firm Taylor Wessing closed its London office after an employee tested positive. The firm plans to reopen the office on Wednesday.