In these trying and uncertain times, many of us are becoming concerned about our financial future. Multitudes of people have been laid off, and businesses are closing. You may have temporarily or permanently lost your job and are wondering what your rights are and what you can do to make sure you and your family are protected during these difficult times.
Greenville, South Carolina lawyer, Angela Frazier is answering some of the most common questions her clients have regarding the coronavirus pandemic in this article.
Legal Questions and Answers:
My employer wants me to cut back my hours, forced me to take unpaid leave, and ended my employment due to health care. Is there anything I can do?
If you have been displaced, you can file for unemployment. To get unemployment, you must have past earnings and an immigration status that allows you to work in the United States. If your claim is approved, you can end up bringing home anywhere from $40 -$450 per week.
If you are out of work on a temporary basis, you do not have to look for work while collecting unemployment benefits. However, if you were terminated, you must look for another job while receiving unemployment benefits.
My employer is treating me differently during this coronavirus pandemic because I’m Asian or foreign. Is there anything I can do?
Your employer cannot discriminate against you based on your race, origin, or ethnic background for any reason. If they do, you have the right to file a discrimination charge against your employer.
My employer told me to stay home because someone in my family returned from one of the affected countries. Can I do something?
Your employer cannot treat you differently if they think you may have contracted COVID-19 from someone in your family. However, if a government officially quarantined your family member, you may receive up to two weeks of paid sick leave if you stay home to care for them.
Does my employer have to provide me with reasonable accommodations during the COVID-19 pandemic if I have a disability?
If your disability has anything to do with a compromised immune system, your employer may provide accommodations for you to telecommute.
If you only have a cold or flu symptoms, this is not considered a disability, but complications from COVID-19 like pneumonia may be viewed as a disability. If you are having difficulties, you should consult with your employer to explore your different options.
Can my employer ask if I have a health condition that may be affected by COVID-19?
No. You have a doctor-patient confidentiality agreement. If your employer is asking for any of your personal health information, it could be considered a violation of your doctor-patient relationship, and it’s never acceptable.
If I’ve recently traveled to a country that is affected by COVID-19, can my employer request that I stay home during the incubation period?
Yes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that any travelers stay home for a period of 14 days after returning from travel to affected countries.
If I contract coronavirus, can my employer let others know about my condition?
No, your employer is obligated to keep all your medical information confidential and private.
Can my employer take my temperature while I’m at work?
Under normal conditions, this isn’t legal, however, the Center for Disease Control CDC and local authorities may recommend your employer take your temperature before starting work during the coronavirus pandemic.
If I get sick with coronavirus symptoms, can my employer make me go home?
Yes. The Center for Disease Control has recommended that anyone who shows symptoms of the coronavirus should be sent home immediately.
If I contract coronavirus and am not able to work, how can I get income while I’m sick?
If you are at home sick with the coronavirus, your employer could pay you for your accrued sick days. However, your employer can limit the number of sick days you are entitled to down to 3.
Additionally, starting April 2, 2020, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, if your employer has fewer than 500 employees, you could be entitled to two weeks of paid sick days.
If you contract coronavirus while at work, you may be eligible to receive Workers’ compensation. To start this process, you will need to file a claim form DW-1 with your employer.
Can I lose my job if I don’t go to work because I’m sick with the coronavirus?
No. Not only can’t you lose your job because you are sick with the coronavirus, but you may be entitled to 2 weeks of sick pay.
Additionally, you may qualify for protected time off work for up to 12 weeks. To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
- Your employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your workplace
- You have worked for your employer for at least a year
- You have worked at least 1250 hours within the year before requesting time off
Finding the Right Lawyer if your Rights Are Violated
If you believe that your employer did anything that crossed the line during the coronavirus pandemic, you have the right to take action. In Greenville, South Carolina, the law firm of Angela Frazier is highly recommended.
She and her team are experienced at handling work-related legal issues and takes a caring approach to treat their clients with respect. When it comes to fighting for your rights, she uses the aggressive representation to see that justice is served.