Workplace Safety And Employee Rights During The Pandemic
With the onset of COVID-19, non-essential businesses have had to cease physical operations, with employees continuing work under remote working arrangements. Meanwhile, essential businesses such as healthcare facilities and grocery stores are allowed to keep running, albeit with protective measures in place for staff, patients and visitors. However, that is not the reality for many workers who find themselves in this situation. Some employers have failed to step up to the mark when it comes to providing a safe workplace environment, which employees have legal right to expect.
OSHA Guidance on Workplace Safety
OSHA has divided essential workers into four levels of risk, starting from low and going up to medium, high and very high. Healthcare practitioners such as doctors and nurses working directly with COVID-19 patients are considered to be at “very high” risk. This means that personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectant, hand sanitizer and additional environmental safeguards must be provided by their employers. On the other hand, grocery store workers are considered to be of “medium” risk and protective measures such as safe distancing and face guards are recommended.
On top of these measures, local statures put in place that apply to the general public such as maintaining a 6 feet distance from others and masking up in public are to be enforced by businesses. Out of concern for their own safety and that of their customers’, some workers do not feel comfortable serving those who do not abide by these guidelines.
Have Your Employee Rights Been Infringed Upon?
If one or more of the following have happened to you, you could have a legal claim against your employer:
- Being made to show up at a physical work location as an employee of a non-essential business and/or facing consequences for refusing to do so.
- Being fired for refusing to work without protective measures and safe distancing precautions.
- Being threatened, disciplined or terminated for advocating for a safe workplace in accordance with OSHA guidelines.
- Your workplace refuses to follow OSHA guidelines despite you and other employees urging them to do so.
- You were denied sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons, such as caregiving responsibilities for a family member.
Carcich O’Shea Will Listen to Your Unfair Treatment Claim
If you are an essential worker who dreads going to work because your employer has not followed OSHA guidelines, we have got your back. If you are worried that the unsafe environment at work may result in you catching the virus and/or transmitting it to your family members, you have the right to speak up. At Carcich O’Shea, we are here to listen and assist you. We believe that every worker deserves to work in the safest possible environment. If you have raised your concerns with your employer but they refuse to abide by OSHA guidelines, please do not hesitate to contact us for legal advice. Our experienced attorneys specialize in employment law and will advocate tirelessly on your behalf.