Coronavirus: Can You Be Fired for Complaining About Lack of PPE? | Mann & Elias
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Coronavirus: Can You Be Fired for Complaining About Lack of PPE?

Know Your Rights in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus has changed a lot about the way that the world functions. As employees are starting to head back to their workplaces, there are many new rules recommended by the CDC for workplace safety. These guidelines include the use of personal protection equipment (PPE) while on the job.

Many employees are facing termination because they are complaining about workplace safety. It’s not hard to see why many people are becoming overly worried about their workplace safety as the pandemic has brought to light a real danger.

To start off, your employer may not retaliate against you by firing or demoting you because you’ve complained about workplace safety issues. While there are many federal labor laws regarding workplace safety, they can be confusing for the average person. Enlisting the help of an unjust termination at work, your lawyer can easily help you understand what areas of the law specifically deal with your workplace issue. Since being fired due to arguing your employer’s inadequate COVID precautions is both illegal and unethical, you and your lawyer can put together a strong case.

What Type Of PPE Must My Employer Require?

Safety complaints must be valid for you to take the case to court. This brings up the big question of what type of PPE your employer must provide for you and your coworkers. It’s important to realize that different occupations require different safety measures.

COVID-19 job termination lawyers in Los Angeles base their cases on the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. This Act specifies the type of PPE that your employer must provide and the amount of protection as well. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, OSHA has issued many safety guidelines for businesses to follow. In addition to the OSHA requirements, the CDC has issued recommendations as well.

As you learned, the type of PPE that your employer must provide highly depends on your job. OSHA and the CDC base their recommendations on a particular employee’s degree of risk. Currently, they consider high risk workers to be:

  • Physicians, Surgeons, Nurses, And Other Healthcare Staff
  • Lab Technicians Working With COVID-19 Specimens
  • Medical Transportation Staff
  • Morgue Personnel

These kinds of high risk workers are in critical need for PPE, including equipment like gloves, goggles, and N95 respirators. This extent of protection is not required by OSHA for lower risk jobs, like restaurant staff and warehouse workers. However, these companies still need to protect their workers in the midst of the pandemic. Hiring a lawyer will help you build a stronger case against your employer since the OSH Act is so broad.

Understanding The OSH Act

The OSH Act is intended to keep employees safe at their workplace. This means being free from potential hazards. This Act also focuses on outlawing any sort of employer retaliation due to an employee complaining about their workplace safety.

If your job puts you at risk for contracting this deadly virus, then you should talk to your employer about your workplace safety concerns. This holds especially true if you believe that there is a lack of PPE at your workplace. You should first go to the root of the problem and talk with your supervisor or human resources department. If they fail to address your concerns in a timely manner, then you’ll need to file a complaint with OSHA as well as look into unfair firing.

Filing a formal complaint with OSHA can be easily accomplished by enlisting the help of a lawyer. You can also get a great deal of information from the OSHA website. They actually break down the complaint filing process and what happens after your complaint is received. In most cases, OSHA will conduct a proper investigation at your workplace to see whether or not your complaint is valid. If so, your employer may receive a harsh reprimand via a fine and be required to supply the proper PPE equipment for employees.

What Happens If I Get Fired For Complaining About Lack Of Proper PPE?

As you discovered above, you cannot be fired for filing a complaint against your workplace for lack of proper PPE. There are many employment lawyers in Los Angeles that handle wrongful termination due to this particular issue. These cases are referred to as retaliation discharges, and they are illegal in the United States due to the OSH Act.

If you’ve been fired, you’ll need to file a whistleblower complaint. This is done through OSHA, and you can find out more about it on their website. It’s very vital that you realize any complaint must be filed within a short 30-day window from the date of the retaliation. If you wait too long, you won’t be able to file this type of complaint.

Can I Refuse To Work Due To Lack Of Proper PPE?

This area of the law can be a bit grey, so it’s very important that you take the time to properly build up your case. If you believe that your job puts you at a very high risk of danger, legally referred to as imminent danger, then you can refuse to go to work. In this particular case, you won’t have to worry about going through the OSHA complaint procedure.

This type of case requires that you successfully prove that you were facing imminent danger by going to work. This means an immediate threat of danger that could result in serious physical harm to your being. The law supports the decision of an employee refusing to work for fear of imminent danger in the following circumstances:

  • You told your employer about the danger, but they didn’t eliminate it.
  • A reasonable person would agree that there is a real risk of serious injury or death.
  • You must tell your employer that you won’t work due to the hazard.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, this type of case can be more difficult to prove than other forms of imminent danger. If your employer is taking steps to help minimize the risk of the virus in your workplace, you’ll need to provide good evidence for refusing to work.

Meeting with the team at Mann & Elias could be the difference between losing your job and getting the compensation you deserve. Gather evidence of your employer’s mistreatment of you and present your findings to your experienced legal team. Together, you can build a case for unsafe work conditions in the pandemic.


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