Get Your COVID-19 Legal Questions Answered

The effects of the coronavirus are being felt worldwide. It’s likely that there have been many changes in your workplace due to the pandemic. Maybe you were laid off or furloughed; maybe you had your hours cut or maybe you have been asked to work at home. It’s possible you lost your job completely. 

Whatever your current circumstances may be, there is no doubt that the workplace landscape has changed. But just because things are a bit topsy-turvy, it doesn’t mean your employer can bend the rules. 

If you are wondering what your worker’s rights are concerning the changes that came with the coronavirus, here is a bit of Q & A. Hopefully, you will find the answers to your questions.

What can I do if my employer cut my hours, fired me, or forced me to take unpaid leave due to the coronavirus health scare?

If your employer altered your work schedule in a way that affects your income, you can apply for unemployment benefits. Fortunately, the $2.2 Trillion Plan has made provisions for generous benefits that will help workers pay their expenses while they are out of work. You can apply for unemployment by going to the EDD web site.

If you lost your job due to the coronavirus, you might have to look for work to be eligible for benefits. However, if you were laid off, you will not be required to seek employment. 

I’m of Asian descent or from another country, and ever since the COVID hit, my employer has been treating me differently. Is this unethical?

Yes, it is unethical. Your employer is not allowed to treat you differently based on your race, gender, or cultural background due to the COVID outbreak or for any other reason. 

If I have a disability that makes me more susceptible to the coronavirus, is my employer required to provide me with accommodations so I can work from home?

Yes, if you have disabilities such as a weakened immune system, that makes you more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus, your employer may provide you with whatever equipment you need to work from home. Flu and cold symptoms may not be considered a disability, but a more serious condition such as pneumonia will be classified as such.

Can my employer ask me if I have a health condition that makes me more susceptible to the coronavirus?

No. If your employer asks you for any information that is on your medical record, that is considered a violation of doctor-patient confidentiality. 

If I traveled to a COVID affected country, can my employer require me to stay home during the incubation period?

Yes. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends that anyone that returns from a COVID affected country stay home for at least two weeks.

If I have been diagnosed with COVID19, can my employer let others know about my condition?

No. Your employer has no right to share your medical information with anyone, and that includes your co-workers.

Can my employer take my temperature at work?

Normally this type of activity would be frowned upon. However, to keep the disease from spreading, the CDC and local health care providers are recommending that employers take their employees’ temperatures before starting work under certain circumstances.

If I start showing coronavirus symptoms at work, can my employer send me home?

Yes, the CDC is recommending that anyone that starts showing coronavirus symptoms is sent home immediately. 

If I become sick with the coronavirus, what can I do to keep receiving income?

If you become sick with the coronavirus, you can continue receiving income by the following means:

  • Sick Days: You can use your sick days to be compensated during this time. However, some employers are only required to give employees only three sick days a year. This will not be enough to cover their sick leave.
  • The Family First Coronavirus Response Act: Going into effect on April 2, 2020, this Act will see to it that employees with under 500 employees compensate workers with up to 2 weeks of sick pay if they contract the coronavirus.
  • State Disability Insurance (SDI): Certain individuals will be eligible for compensation through disability benefits. You can apply for SDI through the EDD website.
  • Worker’s Comp: If you contracted the coronavirus while you were at work, you might be able to file a worker’s comp claim to become compensated for missed work and medical expenses. Claims can be filed at the following link:

Can I lose my job if I’m out sick with the coronavirus?

No, your employer can not fire you if you are out sick with the coronavirus. In fact, you will be eligible for up to two weeks of paid sick leave. 

In addition to this, you may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of protected sick leave. This will be the case if you meet the following requirements:

  • You must be working for a company with at least 50 employees that work within 75 miles of your worksite. 
  • You must have been working for your company for at least a year.
  • You must have accrued at least 1250 hours of work within the year you are requesting sick leave.

How can I receive income if I’m staying home to care for a relative that is sick with the coronavirus?

If you work for a company with less than 500 workers, you can request two weeks of paid sick time to take care of a sick relative. If you work for a larger company, you are entitled to whatever sick days you have accrued.

You can also apply for sick family leave on the EDD website. During the process, you will have to submit proof of your relative’s condition provided by a professional health care worker. If approved, you can collect a percentage of your income for two weeks.

How can I make sure my rights are protected?

If you think your employer may have acted in a way that violates your rights due to the coronavirus health scare, the first step to take is to consult a reliable attorney. If you are looking for an attorney in New York, Michael Redenburg is highly recommended. 

Michael Redenburg has years of experience defending individuals in work-related legal matters. He is familiar with employee rights, and he can tell you if employers are crossing the line, even during times of crisis. He provides a high level of service and is dedicated to exceeding his client’s expectations.

These are uncertain times. Don’t let your work situation be another uncertainty. Reach out to Michael Redenburg to make sure your rights are protected.