What Can an Employer Do in COVID-19? 4 Quick FAQs
COVID-19 has changed the dynamic of employment for a lot of people. Both employers and employees will likely have many questions about how COVID-19 changes or affects their relationships, especially in light of other federal laws that are already in place. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers amid COVID-19.
Is COVID-19 considered a disability for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
The ADA protects employees from discrimination, harassment, and other adverse employment activities when those actions are based on a disability. Many disabilities are centered around health conditions, but COVID-19 is generally not considered a medical disability because it does not last long enough.
However, complications from COVID-19 may be considered a disability. The employer may need to make reasonable accommodations for an employee who has lingering effects of COVID-19.
What would be considered “wrongful termination” during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In most circumstances, employees are hired as “at-will” employees. That means that both the employer and the employee can terminate their relationship for any lawful reason at any time. However, suppose you are terminated because you have brought up safety concerns or you are obeying a shelter in place order. In that case, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. You might also have further legal options if you are terminated for taking medical leave that you are entitled to receive under FMLA or other similar laws.
You might also have a wrongful termination claim if you refuse to work under dangerous conditions. However, you must have a good faith belief that there is a hazardous condition and that this condition may cause a serious health issue (such as contracting COVID), or create a reasonable risk of death or serious harm. Reasonable risk of exposure to COVID-19 may pose the threat of serious illness or injury, especially if you are in a “high risk” group due to underlying health issues.
Can an employer ask if the employee has been diagnosed with or tested for COVID-19?
If the employee is physically entering the workplace, employers can ask about testing and symptoms of COVID-19 but must do so discretely in a confidential manner.
Can an employer require that employees wear protective gear in the workplace?
Generally, yes. Employers can require that you wear protective gear and follow infection control practices. However, if you have a disability and need a reasonable accommodation that involves foregoing wearing protective gear, the employer may need to modify their requirements.
Get Help with COVID-19 Employment Concerns
If your employment has been negatively affected by COVID-19, contact our firm. The attorneys at Goldman & Ehrlich, can walk you through your legal options and help you decide what to do next, call 312-332-6733.