With the coronavirus continuing to spread rapidly, workers—especially those in civil service and the hospitality industry—are faced with a major dilemma: what if they get sick with the coronavirus and their employer makes them come to work despite being sick? Could the employer file disciplinary charges against the employee if they refuse to work while sick? What kind of job defense options are available to workers during this challenging time? Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect against this, and there are options available to defend workers’ rights.
Know Your Rights When Sick
The coronavirus falls under the umbrella of the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). According to this rule, employers must provide their workers with a working environment that is free from hazards that could cause death or harm. This means employees should not be working while sick with the coronavirus and they should not be forced to work with people who have the coronavirus. In fact, you should not be forced to work by your employer if you are exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry cough
You should go home to recover. On the national level, it is recommended that you be free of any symptoms for 24 hours before returning to work but updated New York City Department of Health guidelines suggest 72 hours is preferred.
Some Ways Employers Are in Violation of the OSH Act
Recent reports suggest that many food service and restaurant industry employers as well as employers from other industries are not very compassionate or cautious about the coronavirus pandemic. Oftentimes employers in these cases might make the sick employee feel bad for missing work, essentially “guilting” them into working to handle any influx of workflow. Technically, they are not permitted to make you work while sick, especially with something as serious as the coronavirus, but you might do it anyway since you might not have enough or any paid time off/sick time to make up for the missed wages.
In addition, if you end up taking a significant amount of time off due to the coronavirus or another sickness, once you return, the employer might cut back your hours or drop some of your preferred shifts from your work schedule. Examples of this at your job further reinforce a workplace culture that disapproves of staying home from work when sick. Employers might even take disciplinary action against you if you miss work for being sick despite them requiring you to attend work.
Contact an NYC Job Defense Attorney
With the coronavirus a serious threat to the world as a highly contagious pandemic, it is more important than ever for workers to stay home from work when sick. If you or your labor union suspect your employer is creating an unsafe working environment by discouraging staying home from work while sick or even taking disciplinary or otherwise discriminatory measures against you for staying home while sick, you might need the help of a Manhattan civil litigation lawyer to make your case. Contact JOEY JACKSON LAW, PLLC, at 833-563-9522/833-JoeyJac to see how we can help you.