Coronavirus Exposure At Work
Many people are lucky to have the option to work from home. Some employers are also offering remote work options during the pandemic. However, not everyone has this option. Some people wake up each day to the possibility of coronavirus exposure at work.
In this article, we explore if it’s possible to sue your employer for COVID-19 exposure at work. The information in this article only applies to Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The best advice is to speak to a lawyer before making any decisions that affect your employment or income.
Employee Coronavirus Protections
There are federal and state guidelines in place to protect employees from coronavirus exposure. But, some employers don’t follow the guidelines. Employees find themselves in a difficult position.
Employer Coronavirus Precautions
Employers need to take proper precautions for the coronavirus if they remain open. But are they following the protocol to keep their employees safe from coronavirus exposure? Many are following the rules, but there are some bad actors out there putting employees at risk. These companies know the state doesn’t have the resources to enforce the rules meant to protect employees.
It’s a gamble. The company is betting that employees won’t challenge the negligence. Additionally, the company knows negligence alone isn’t always enough for a successful lawsuit. But, if/when a COVID-19 outbreak happens at work, employees should talk to a lawyer for help.
OSHA’s COVID-19 Protocol
- low exposure risk
- medium exposure risk
- high exposure risk
- very high exposure risk
Each level requires a different set of procedures that must be followed. For example, very high exposure risk expects employers to provide hand sanitizer and personal protection equipment. Each employer must provide the necessary precautions to their employees. If an employer fails to follow OSHA standards, there are consequences.
Failure To Follow OSHA Standards
If you feel your workplace is not adhering to these standards, talk to your employer first. Many employers want to do the right thing, but aren’t exactly sure what to do. If your employer does not correct the hazard, file a report with OSHA. Then consult a personal injury lawyer.
Many people we speak to tell us that OSHA is not performing inspections during the pandemic. This sort of creates a “wild west” in expecting employers to do the right thing. But this doesn’t always leave you without options.
Many people are forced to make the decision to go to work or risk getting fired during the pandemic. Reports state some employers threaten employees with termination if they do not report to work.
People are scared of losing their income and the security of a job. These are uncertain times, and high unemployment rates make it harder to find stable income. Others need the health insurance benefits that come with their job.
Can You Refuse To Go To Work?
Many employees wonder if they must go to work if they fear coronavirus exposure. It’s a very gray area right now. The federal government added rules to FMLA that allow most people to receive paid time off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Tom Wolf has said if employees are afraid of exposure, they should not go to work. But, he has not clarified if this will cause someone to lose unemployment eligibility.
If your employer fails to fix the problem and address the risks, you might have options. Contacting an attorney will help you understand the options available for your situation.
Can I Collect Unemployment?
As the majority of Americans are forced to stay home, many have filed unemployment. If you have lost your job due to the novel coronavirus, you are eligible to claim unemployment benefits if:
- The workplace shuts down temporarily due to COVID-19, resulting in employee losing job
- The employee is quarantined
- An employee does not go to work because of the risk of exposure to the virus
- The employee cannot go to work because they are taking care of a family member due to the pandemic
You will want to research the specific laws of your state. You can determine if you are eligible, how much you can claim, and how long you can receive unemployment. Even though unemployment is available, many people report trouble filing a claim. Additionally, those that file for unemployment aren’t receiving benefits for weeks or months.
Is Your Workplace Unsafe?
If you believe your workplace is unsafe from the COVID-19 virus, call us today. We can help you understand and protect your rights. If you have an actionable claim, our attorneys are available to represent you.
Free Legal Consultations
If you live in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, Kane & Silverman can help you. Our firm specializes in personal injury and negligence cases. We provide free and confidential legal consultations. We don’t contact your employer about your situation until we file a claim on your behalf.