The Coronavirus outbreak has everyone in the country scrambling to figure out what to do. Employers are trying to decide how they can continue business operations. Employees are trying to figure out what they can do if they find themselves quarantined. What are your employee rights during this Coronavirus outbreak? Can you lose your job? What rights do you have during this scary time?
The Coronavirus has everyone afraid and rightfully so. More than 209,000 people around the world contracted the Coronavirus this year. In addition, more than 8,700 people lost their lives to this deadly disease (as of March 20, 2020). As such, the World Health Organization declared this a global health emergency.
How the Coronavirus Impacts Business and Employee Travel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) and the State Department recently placed a travel advisory on all non-essential travel to China. If employees return from the Hubei province, there is a 14-day mandatory quarantine. Under the ADA, employees with certain medical conditions may not travel to these affected regions. Instead, employers are to give their employees alternate methods of conducting business. These methods include web conferencing and telecommuting.
Employers are not allowed to ask their employees specific personal questions. Yet, they can ask if they or someone they live with has traveled to China in the last 14 days. They can also ask if the employee visited a hospital with active cases of Coronavirus.
For even more up-to-date information, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 page.
Employee Rights and the Coronavirus
Employees still have rights during the Coronavirus outbreak. If you exhibit symptoms of the illness, your employer is within their rights to send you home. An employer can also require employees who traveled to China to stay home for at least 14 days.
Employers must always pay employees under current labor laws. This includes the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. They must also allow sick employees time away from work. That means that anyone with the Coronavirus can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for serious health conditions without fear of losing their job. Employees who work from home can collect paychecks for all hours worked. Employees who must stay home due to the Coronavirus can use their paid sick leave during this time.
As an employee, your employee rights include a right to medical privacy. As such, your employer cannot disclose why you are out sick or that you might have the Coronavirus.
California is an “at-will” state. Yet, your employer cannot fire you because you contracted the Coronavirus. This would qualify as wrongful termination. If you believe that you lost your job because you were under quarantine or suspected of the Coronavirus, contact an attorney immediately.
Contact a Labor Lawyer in Walnut Creek
Are you confused about your employee rights during the Coronavirus outbreak? During the outbreak, it is important for employees to know what to do and what their rights are. If you are uncertain about your employee rights, we can help. A labor lawyer in Walnut Creek can help during this difficult time. Contact the Law Office of Christopher Baudino by filling out our confidential contact form. Labor lawyer Christopher Baudino can answer all of your questions about employment during the Coronavirus outbreak.