Can I Be Forced Back to Work During COVID-19?
In an effort to combat COVID-19, companies across the country have shuttered operations, required employees to work remotely and limited services and business hours. Although the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding, companies and employers are eager to get their businesses up and running. However, there is still a high risk and danger of exposing employees to the coronavirus, which can results in severe sickness and even death. In fact, lawsuits related to the coronavirus have already arrived and are on the rise. Despite unprecedented court closures and changing procedural rules, COVID-19 lawsuits have steadily increased and are expected to expand across the country. While most business follow the standard of putting the safety and health of its employees first, other companies are placing profits over safety. Illustrated below are just a few examples of recent COVID-19 lawsuits:
- Verhines v. Uber Technology, Inc., No. 20-583684 (Cal. Super. Ct. Mar. 12, 2020): asserts claim for paid sick leave based on worker classification.
- Alaska State Employees v. State of Alaska, No. 20-5652 (Super. Ct. Ak. Mar. 24, 2020): asserts claim for injunctive relief for public employees to reduce health risks.
- Burr v. Carnival Corp., No. 20-CA-002640 (Fla. Cir. Ct. Mar. 19, 2020): asserts claims by entertainers hired by cruise ships who claim entitlement to full compensation.
- Rogers v. Lyft, Inc., No. CGC-20-583685 (Cal. Super. Ct.): claims that Lyft failed to provide adequate paid sick leave, making drivers feel compelled to drive even if sick.
- Estate of Wando Evans v. Walmart Inc. et al., No. 2020L003938 (Ill. Cir. Ct.): In Illinois, the family of a Walmart worker who died of coronavirus sued the retailer in early April, alleging the company didn’t do enough to protect its workers from the disease.
Many companies are facing an uncertain financial future, and some are putting their employees at a high and unnecessary risk. Such companies are forcing employees to return to the workplace before conditions are safe, which greatly increases a person’s risk of contracting the COVID-19 (coronavirus). It is essential that businesses take proper steps to protect their workplace and ensure they are not exposing workers and individuals to the coronavirus. If proper protections are not in place, such as enforcing social distancing guidelines, properly sanitize the workplace, or provide sufficient personal protective equipment for employees, then these companies can be held liable if you or a loved one contract COVID-19. Do not let your employer put you or your family at risk. If you are being forced to return to work before proper protections are in place and contract COVID-19, call the attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman immediately for a free consultation to discuss all of your legal rights. During these uncertain times, consultations can be made available through popular services like Zoom.