With the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country, you may not know what rights you have as an employee if the pandemic has somehow affected your employment. Here are some common questions that many employees have about their rights in the current workplace situation.
What Can You Do About Unsafe Working Conditions?
It is possible that you are working in an environment that your employer has made unsafe due to COVID-19. They may not be giving you personal protection equipment, be refusing to isolate and maintain social distancing, or be violating local laws regarding occupancy. If this sounds like your situation, it is possible to report your employer to your local municipality to take action to fix it.
However, reporting their safety violations may not always work in your favor. They may retaliate against you by letting you go from the company, which would be an unjustified reason to do so. If this happens, you could start a wrongful termination lawsuit against your former employer due to you losing your job for reporting safety violations.
If the safety precautions are not fixed, your work environment could cause you to quit your job and have it be considered a work refusal. This is a situation where you essentially quit your job due to your safety concerns, but you will still be paid while you are not working. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal challenges with this approach and prove your work conditions were unsafe.
What If You Are Laid Off Due To Your Susceptibility To The Virus?
Your employer may need to cut back on how many employees that they hired, but decide to lay off people that are more susceptible to the virus. This includes people with underlying health conditions or are simply an older age. It is not legal to lay someone off from their job for either of these situations, since it is considered workplace discrimination. In the latter situation with employees that are of old age, that is considered age discrimination.
What Can You Do If You're Being Forced To Return To Work And Don't Have Childcare?
The situation with childcare has been very complicated for working parents, with schools and daycares shutting down due to the virus. If you are in a situation where you have been working from home and are now being forced to return to the office, you do have some legal options. You may be able use work refusal laws to stay home so that you can receive benefits due to your unique situation. Ask a lawyer about what you can do when you don't seem to have a viable option and don't want to lose your job or unemployment benefits.
If you have more questions, talk to a COVID 19 Employee Rights Lawyer.