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COVID-19 Legal Questions

These days, it seems you can’t do anything without hearing about the coronavirus. It has definitely taken the world by storm. People are worried about their health, they are worried about their jobs and they are worried about their financial situations. 

It’s likely that there are changes going on in your workplace due to the health scare and it’s important to remember that you have rights in regard to the way your employer is treating you. If you have questions concerning the corona-era policies your company has adopted, read on for some important FAQ’s that might help you get the answers you are looking for.

My boss has ended my employment, forced me to take unpaid leave or cut my hours due to the coronavirus. What are my rights in this situation? 

Workers who have been temporarily or permanently displaced due to the coronavirus are eligible to file for unemployment. Fortunately, the 2 trillion program has made unemployment benefits more attractive than ever. 

In order to file for unemployment, you must go online and follow the instructions at the following link. https://www.edd.ca.gov/unemployment/filing_a_claim.htm

The EDD will get back to you to let you know whether you are eligible and know how much you will be collecting.

My relative just returned from traveling to an affected country and now my employer is forcing me to stay home.  Does he have the right to do this?

Your employer can not make you stay home based on the assumption that someone in your family has coronavirus. However, if you need to stay home to care for a relative that is sick with the coronavirus, you may be given up to 2 weeks sick leave to do so. 

Is my employer required to provide me with special accommodations if I have a disability?

If you have a disability, such as a weakened immune system, that makes you more susceptible to the coronavirus, your employer can provide you with special accommodations so you can work from home. Cold and flu symptoms are not considered a disability but a more serious condition, like pneumonia, would be classified as such.

Can my employer ask me if I have any health conditions that make me more likely to contract the coronavirus?

No. Your employer has no right to ask for any information concerning your medical records regarding the coronavirus or any other matter.

If I traveled to another country that is affected by the coronavirus, can my employer ask me to stay home during the incubation period?

Yes. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends that anyone who traveled to a country that is affected by the coronavirus stay home for two weeks to ride out the incubation period. 

If I have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, can my employer tell my co-workers about my condition?

No. Your employer is not allowed to share your medical information with anyone, co-workers or otherwise. 

Can my employer take my temperature at work?

Usually this would not be allowed but considering the current health climate, there are instances when the CDC or a local health worker will recommend your boss takes your temperature before you start work. 

If I become sick at work with coronavirus symptoms, can my boss send me home?

Yes, the CDC recommends that anyone who shows symptoms of having the coronavirus be sent home immediately. 

How can I receive income if I’m home sick with the coronavirus?

If you are home with the coronavirus, you are entitled to your paid sick days. But depending on the benefits your employer offers, you can have as little as three sick days per year. 

However, on April 2, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act will go into effect. The act will mandate the companies with under 500 workers provide an additional two weeks of sick days. 

You may also be eligible for State Disability Insurance (SDI). You can apply to see if you are eligible for SDI on the EDD web site.

Another possibility, if you contracted the coronavirus while you were at work, you may be eligible for compensation through a worker’s comp claim. You will have to start the process by filing a DWC-1 claim form with your employer. 

Can I lose my job because I am sick with the coronavirus?

No.  A worker can not lose their job because they contracted the coronavirus. In fact, they may be entitled to up to two weeks of paid sick leave. 

They may also be able to qualify for up to 12 weeks of protected time off. The eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Your employer must have at least 50 employers working within 75 miles of their job site
  • You must have been employed by your employer for at least a year
  • You must have worked at least 1250 hours within the year you are making your request

How can I receive income if I’m staying home to care for a relative that is sick with the coronavirus?

If you are staying home to care for a relative who is sick with the coronavirus, you are entitled to paid sick leave. You may also be eligible for paid family leave.

You can apply for paid family leave through the EDD and you stand to collect 60-70% of your income. In order to qualify, you must have a certified health care worker provide proof of your relative’s condition.

Finding the Right Lawyer to Represent You 

In these uncertain times, it’s important to make sure your rights are protected. If you feel your employer has acted in a way that may have violated your rights, it’s best to consult a trusted attorney. If you are looking for an attorney in the Columbia area, the Jeffcoat Firm is highly recommended.

The Jeffcoat team has years of experience helping clients defend themselves in work-related cases. Their mission is to protect individuals who are up against a powerful force; and that includes major corporations. They treat all their clients with care and respect and they are driven to provide winning results. 

Right now, things are scary and no one knows where to turn. When it comes to protecting your rights at work, you can count on the attorneys at the Jeffcoat Firm. They will see to it that justice is served.

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! NOTICE ! No Legal Advice Intended. This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues or problems.

Michael Jeffcoat, 1333 Main Street, Suite 510 Columbia, SC 29201
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