What Your Boss Can & Can't Do Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak
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What Your Boss Can & Can’t Do Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak

Fired for Refusing to Work Because of Coronavirus? Contact Us For Legal Help

During a national and global pandemic, such as what we are currently experiencing with COVID-19, employees and employers alike are facing some new challenges. Both are working hard to try and figure out what their rights are. With the new Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act set to go into effect on April 2, 2020, it appears to leave employees somewhat uncovered until the Expansion Act’s effective date. In the interim, there are still some grey areas and some unanswered questions many employees and employers have. If you live in the Los Angeles area, there are some important things you need to know.

Are You Required to Use Paid Leave Time?

Currently, your employer can make you use any paid leave time if you are sick with the COVID-19 or if you are caring for a loved one who is. The new Expansion Act prevents employers from forcing you to take these paid leave days in either of the previously-mentioned scenarios. The act doesn’t go into effect until April 2, 2020, which means there is no other way around being required to use paid leave time between now and April 2. If you feel this isn’t being properly enforced, then you should get in touch with a Los Angeles workplace lawyer as soon as possible.

Are You Protected When You Take Emergency Leave to Care for Underage Children?

The act does allow for job protected emergency leave in the case of a parent having to take time off to care for children under the age of 18, which is necessary for many employees due to the nationwide school closures. This will only apply to those who have worked for a company for a minimum of 30 days before the first day of leave and provides job protection for up to 12 weeks. If you are able to do telework, then you must take this option or else you will not be covered.

Will You Be Paid for Emergency Leave?

Currently, you are not being paid for emergency leave and are most likely using paid time off to maintain an income. The Expansion Act does help to cover this as well, especially for those who may still be working and could end up having to use emergency leave in the near future. The first 10 days of emergency leave are unpaid, but you can elect to use any of your paid time to help offset any lost income. The emergency leave must be due to certain circumstances as previously mentioned. After the 10 days, your employer is required to pay two-thirds of your regular full-time rate. There is a daily cap of $200 per day and $10,000 total for an employee. If you are a part-time employee with an irregular schedule, then your average number of hours worked in the previous six months will be used to calculate what you would have worked and you will be paid accordingly.

Will You Have The Same Position When You Return to Work?

The new Expansion Act actually makes clear that the current emergency leave laws still apply. If your company has more than 25 employees, then you are entitled to your previous job or an equivalent position. There is an exemption for companies with less than 25 employees. If you work for a company with less than 25 employees, your job will still be protected but your position can change at the employer’s discretion.

Can Your Employer Fire You if You Refuse to Work with The Public During an Outbreak?

As it currently stands, your employer cannot legally force you to work for valid safety concerns. However, it is important that you do take into account how much safety training and equipment you have received up until this point, and how much actual interaction you have with the public. Passing someone while mopping or vacuuming a hallway and wearing protective gear will most likely not work in your favor as a valid safety concern. In contrast, if you work at a service counter where you are frequently exposed to the public and no safety measures or training have been put into place, then you cannot be forced to continue working in those conditions if you are concerned. Employers may threaten you but if you have a viable concern for your health and safety, then they may be breaking the law. If your employer fires or threatens to fire you due to your safety concerns, then call a wrongful termination attorney Los Angeles right away.

Is Your Employer Legally Allowed to Take Your Temperature or Request You Get Tested for Coronavirus?

Currently, an employer is not legally allowed to take your temperature or force you to take any type of medical examination. This may change but it is hard to say at this point. As it stands right now, it is outside of your employer’s bounds. If they are asking to take your temperature and you refuse, they are in violation of the law if they fire you on these grounds.

Can You Sue Your Employer for Catching the Coronavirus?

This would be very difficult to prove right now because it would be unclear as to how you actually caught the virus. If you were forced to work under dangerous circumstances and your job was threatened for non-compliance, you may have a case against your employer. If someone you know was fired for refusing to work because of COVID-19 risk and exposure, and you’re worried this may happen to you, then immediately contact an employment attorney in Los Angeles to learn your rights. While the new Expansion Act will be helpful in the coming months, it does expire on December 31, 2020 and a Los Angeles employment lawyer can help you understand what is covered in a case of termination. In the meantime, if you feel your employment rights are being violated in any way, contact a Los Angeles unemployment lawyer today.  
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