New York Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Workplace Rights Attorney
Decades of Experience to Protect Your Rights During a National Emergency
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a highly publicized pandemic that has affected almost everyone in severe ways. At Nisar Law Group, P.C., our New York Coronavirus (COVID-19) and workplace rights attorneys understand the importance of your job and your right to work. Your career does not have to become a casualty of COVID-19. Call our firm right away to learn more about what to if your job is in jeopardy.
Call (646) 760-6493 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.
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What Are Your Rights Under COVID-19?
With the rapid changes that have occurred in the month of March, many employers just don't know what to do next. Because businesses are financially impacted, they may ask their employees to take unpaid leave, furlough them, or terminate them rather than provide them with the accommodations they need to work from home or change their job tasks.
According to the ADA, employers must reasonably accommodate any employee with a disability. As COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, one such disability could be "inability to breathe." Certain guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides significant deference to Employers in avoiding a community spread of the virus, however it is not a blanket endorsement of disability or national origin discrimination.
Your employer could make changes such as:
- Allowing you to work from home
- Providing you with safety equipment to continue working if you are in an essential business
- Providing paid or unpaid leave if you are unable to continue working
- You may qualify for Family Leave or Temporary Disability Leave
- You may be offered severance
Information for Doctors, Nurses, and Frontline Staff
If you are a Doctor, Nurse, or frontline staff at an essential business facing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) issues and/or issues with workplace safety and hazards, we have prepared the following resources:
- New York Department of Labor: Resources and Information to File a Complaint Against Your Employer
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: OSHA Standards, Directives, and Related Information
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Resources and Information to File a Safety and Health or Whistleblower Complaint
NY Whistleblower Statutes Provide Worker Protections
If your employer has retaliated against you for complaining about, or objecting to, its violation of New York State’s COVID-19 Quarantine Order (such as the stay-at-home or social distancing mandates), you might have protection under the law. Retaliation is any adverse employment action taken against you, such as termination, demotion, suspension, or any other form of negative consequence, as a result of your complaint or objection.
Pursuant to New York Labor Law § 740, employers are prohibited from taking any retaliatory action against employees who “object to, or refuse to participate in any activity, policy, or practice” “that is in violation of law, rule or regulation which violation creates and presents a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety.” Thus, under this law, the harm that results from the violation of which the employee complains must affect the general public and not just the individual employee. Due to the substantial and specific danger that COVID-19 poses to the public health and safety, an employee’s objection to, or refusal to participate in, the violation of New York’s COVID-19 Quarantine Order would arguably fall in this category and be protected against retaliation.
Additionally, if you are a health care provider, you have further protection under New York Labor Law § 741. Labor Law § 741 protects health care employees from retaliation for disclosing or objecting to “an activity, policy or practice of [the employee’s] employer . . . that the employee, in good faith, reasonably believes constitutes improper quality of patient care.” Therefore, rather than only protecting complaints that affect the public health and safety, § 741 protects health care employees who report violations which may present “a significant threat to the health of a specific patient.”
Paid Sick Leave Laws in New York
As of March 18, 2020, workers may be eligible for paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Anyone working for the government is likely to be covered under this policy, allowing those who have fallen ill or are caring for someone who is ill to receive up to $200-$511 depending on their situation.
In New York, COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave legislation was recently passed that allows employees to collect benefits depending on the nature of their employer.
- Employers with 10 or fewer employees with net income less than $1 million: Unpaid sick leave and immediate eligibility for Paid Family Leave and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits
- Employers with 11-99 employees with net income greater than $1 million: At least 5 paid days of sick leave, then eligibility for Paid Family Leave and TDI benefits
- Employers with 100+ employees (also applies to public employees): Minimum of 14 days of paid sick leave
If you have been terminated or furloughed as a result of COVID-19 and the mandatory order of quarantine, you should consider applying for NY Paid Family Leave and Short Term Disability Leave using the New York State Paid Family Leave Form. Our attorneys are available to discuss your options in preparing this form if your employer has not provided it or the requisite paid sick leave that you may be entitled to, or if you are denied benefits from your employer's insurance carrier. You may find your employer's insurance carrier by search on the New York State Workers' Compensation Board website.
Applying for Family & Medical Leave Act Benefits
Unfortunately, not all businesses are obligated to make what might seem like reasonable changes to their operations. For those with COVID-19 whose employers are not offering the needed help, they may be able to apply for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits. If your employer qualifies, you could be granted up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
New York City grants up to 40 hours of paid sick leave for employees of companies with 5 or more workers. To learn more about these conditions, call a New York COVID-19 and workplace rights attorney right away.
Dealing with Workplace Discrimination
Some employers are not handling the COVID-19 outbreak in an ethical manner. This could mean discrimination against someone of Asian or Chinese descent, especially after the Coronavirus was referred to as the the "Chinese virus" in order to direct blame. This could lead to unlawful hate and discrimination within the workplace causing a hostile work environment. If you have experienced any form of workplace mistreatment, make sure to speak with Nisar Law Group, P.C. about how to proceed with your case.
Have You Been Offered a Severance Agreement?
Many employers are having to make the difficult decision to terminate their employees due to the financial impact of the Coronavirus on their business. Severance agreements are agreements between the employer and employee which provide monetary compensation in exchange for certain clauses that protect the employer. It is important to speak with an employment attorney to discuss your rights and legal options. Our firm may be able to provide you severance negotiation services to enhance the value of your overall package, especially if you experienced any form of discrimination within the workplace.
Call (646) 760-6493 now to get started on your free consultation.