Fired During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Was I Wrongfully Terminated? For instance, California recognizes this form of wrongful termination when your employer intentionally created or knowingly allowed working conditions that violated public policy (such as laws requiring a safe work environment) and were so intolerable that any reasonable person in your position would have quit. Even though people over 65 are also more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19, age isn’t considered a disability under the ADA. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), the agency charged with enforcing the OSH Act, has issued safety guidelines that should be followed during the pandemic. If you face an "imminent danger," you're allowed to refuse to work, but this is a difficult standard to satisfy. If your employer requires you to work, they can recall you and provide compensation for the work that you perform. Employment laws have not been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. In short, employers can't fire workers for taking family or medical leave under state or federal law. In general, this law cannot be enforced through a private lawsuit. Please reference the Terms of Use and the Supplemental Terms for specific information related to your state. It’s hard to believe but there are reports of workplace discrimination against people of Asian descent because of COVID-19. The content of the responses are entirely from client reviewers. If you believe that you lost your job for an illegal reason, you should speak with an employment attorney about your legal options. Several state and federal laws (often called "whistleblower" statutes) protect employees from retaliation for raising health and safety concerns. COVID-19 Legal Information: The Law And Your Legal Rights During The Coronavirus Outbreak, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), FAQs: Your Workplace Rights During the Coronavirus Pandemic. The information provided on this site is not legal confidential relationship is or should be formed by use of the site. Most states that have issued stay at home orders distinguish between "essential" and "non-essential" work. Your employer must provide you with a reasonable accommodation—such as allowing you to work remotely or changing the configuration of your workspace—as long as that wouldn’t cause undue hardship or interfere with your ability to do your job. The nature of your job and whether you are able to reduce risk by things such as wearing PPE, working behind a plexiglass shield, working outside or far away from others will all factor into your risk of exposure. Lawyers from our extensive network are ready to answer your question. If you believe your employer is wrongfully requesting you to come to work, your state COVID-19 webpage is a good place to start. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home. While most employment is "at-will," meaning you can be fired at any time and for just about any reason, some layoffs are against the law. Under state workers’ compensation laws, it’s also illegal to fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim—regardless of whether you're ultimately able to receive workers’ comp benefits for COVID-19. Another issue is whether you can be terminated or have your hours cut because of your age, based on evidence that older people are at greater risk of COVID-19 complications. In some states, the information on this website may be considered a lawyer referral service. In other words, your employer can’t put you on a temporary layoff, and still expect you to work. Many of the legal issues raised by the coronavirus outbreak are new and complex. Understanding the Occupational Safety and Health Act. COVID-19 Legal information: The Law and Your Legal Rights During the Coronavirus Outbreak. But in all likelihood, individuals with serious cases of COVID-19 would probably be considered disabled under the ADA. Details for individual reviews received before 2009 are not displayed. Under the federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act (as well as many state laws), employers must provide workplaces that are free of recognized hazards—and it’s illegal to fire employees because they reported or complained about unsafe working conditions. Lawyers who have received peer reviews after 2009 will display more detailed information, including practice areas, summary ratings, detailed numeric ratings and written feedback (if available). Your best bet, should you dread going to work, is to use accrued vacation time and stay home. But a less-visible problem has been the workers who were fired for reasons connected to the pandemic. Unfortunately, that concern is often justified, and your worst fear can happen. 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