As New York continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, we will likely see an increase in post-pandemic employment lawsuits. The scale of this pandemic is unprecedented, and we haven’t begun to see the full economic and legal impact of the pandemic.
At Lipsky Lowe LLP, we focus our legal practice on advocating for New York City employees. We have already begun to see employers engaging in unlawful practices and mistreating their employees. If your employer has engaged in unlawful discrimination, failed to keep you safe, or failed to protect you from violence, you might have a valid post-pandemic lawsuit against your employer. Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP today to schedule your initial consultation.
Coronavirus and New York City Post-Pandemic Workplace Safety Lawsuits
Amazon employees have brought a lawsuit against Amazon in federal court. The lawsuit claims that Amazon created a “place of danger” for employees by stopping efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon prioritized increasing productivity over spending money on protecting employees.
As of now, at least 800 Amazon workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the United States. The employee who filed the lawsuit is seeking an injunction that requires Amazon to comply with all relevant safety laws and that Amazon cannot punish employees who test positive for COVID-19 or need to be quarantined.
Potential Post-Pandemic Lawsuits: Bringing a Claim Against Your Employer After Contracting Coronavirus
The lawsuit against Amazon is just one example of many lawsuits that will likely spring up around the country. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requires that employers are required to provide employees with a workplace that is free from “recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Employees who contract coronavirus due to their employer’s unsafe working conditions could have a valid claim against their employer under OSHA or under federal or local law. One example of providing a safe work environment is to screen employees for fevers and symptoms of coronavirus before they come into work. Sending employees with symptoms home is an important aspect of workplace safety.
Employees who contract coronavirus at work due to their employer’s lack of safety precautions will need to prove that they got the virus at work. Doing so can be difficult, but with contact tracing, an employee can show that he or she was exposed to co-workers who had received a diagnosis. Additionally, employers cannot discriminate against employees who act as whistleblowers and report unsafe coronavirus-related working conditions.
Protection from Violence in the Workplace
OSHA protects employees from workplace violence. Workplace violence includes the threat of violence or actual violence against employees. Workplace violence can happen outside of the job site, and it includes threats, assault, and homicide. Workplace violence can happen anywhere in any industry, but workplace violence is increasingly possible in the current economic and political climate.
For example, in Pennsylvania, a customer spit on a grocery store employee when the employee asked the woman to comply with federal guidelines and wait to enter the store. The store was only allowing a certain amount of people into the store at a time. Instances, such as this one, have been on the rise due to coronavirus shutdowns.
Filing a Workplace Violence Complaint in New York City
OSHA requires employers to provide a healthful and safe workplace for all employees covered by OSHA. Employers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent or stop a recognized workplace violence hazard can face citations. If you are an employee who is protected by federal, state, or local laws against workplace violence, and you’ve experienced an incident of workplace violence, we can help.
New York State has also enacted laws requiring public employers to prevent and minimize workplace violence. Public employers include state agencies, public authorities, fire departments, political subdivisions of the states, and any other governmental instrumentality or agency.
Taking the time to speak to an experienced New York City employment lawyer will be worth it. We will thoroughly investigate the facts in your case to determine whether or not you have a legal claim to compensation and restitution. If you do, we can help you determine which type of administrative claim is best, or whether you should file a civil lawsuit against your employer in federal court.
Termination for Discussing a Lack of Coronavirus Protections
Sections 740 through 741 of the New York Labor Law, also known as the Whistleblower Law, prohibit employers from retaliating against an employee because the employee discloses an employer’s unlawful action.
This section of the law could protect you if your employer has taken adverse action against you for talking about your employer’s lack of coronavirus protections in the workplace. For example, if you talked to your supervisor about a policy that violates coronavirus safety guidelines and your employer terminates your position, you may have a right to bring a civil action against your employer. Successful claimants can recover reinstatement to their former position, reinstatement of fringe benefits, back pay, compensation for lost job-related benefits, recoupment of reasonable costs, and attorney’s fees.
Discrimination Against Employees with COVID-19 in New York City
What rights do you have if you test positive for coronavirus in New York City? As of March 2020, you might be eligible for paid sick leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Employees at most small to midsize companies, government agencies, and non-profits will qualify for paid leave. Unfortunately, employees with more than 500 people will be excluded from paid leave. Employees who have contracted coronavirus or are caring for someone else with the virus are entitled to paid leave. Those caring for school-age children can also qualify for up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
Federal and local laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employers because of a serious health condition. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals with a qualifying disability. When an employee has an underlying medical condition exacerbated by the coronavirus, such as diabetes, a heart condition, or asthma, the employee could be considered disabled under the law.
The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with qualifying medical conditions. Employees need to prove that they have coronavirus symptoms and have received a positive diagnosis of coronavirus to use sick leave. Under New York law, an employer must restore an employee to his or her same condition after the employee takes medical leave due to the coronavirus.
Contact Our Experienced New York City Employment Lawyers For Any Potential Post-Pandemic Lawsuits
If you’ve faced discrimination in the workplace due to coronavirus, or your employer has mistreated you in some other way, Lipsky Lowe LLP can help. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced employment lawyers. We will review your case and advise you as to your best legal options.