As the coronavirus pandemic continues, employment lawyers are anticipating a rise in lawsuits after the pandemic. New Yorkers have felt the impact of the coronavirus severely as over 17,000 deaths have been caused by the novel virus in New York. Employment lawyers around the city have predicted a wave of potential issues and lawsuits after the coronavirus pandemic winds down.
Many potential types of lawsuits could arise over coronavirus employment issues in New York City. Disability claims under the ADA, claims related to layoffs, as well as wage and hour challenges will likely all come about. New York City employees are currently facing an unprecedented number of difficulties and challenges.
If your employer violated your rights during the coronavirus pandemic, you might have a valid legal claim against your employer. Contact the dedicated employment law firm of Lipsky Lowe LLP as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can fight for you.
Coronavirus Regulations that Protect Employees in New York State
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has enacted several measures to provide employees with additional protection during the coronavirus pandemic. Most of New York state is in the process of re-opening. Employers are required to abide by special safety requirements as they re-open. These requirements provide protection for customers and employers alike. Additionally, the governor has enacted laws that provide employees impacted by the coronavirus additional benefits, including disability benefits, paid family leave, and sick leave.
Wage and Hour Violations and the Coronavirus Pandemic
If your employer has failed to pay you for the hours that you’ve worked, you have a right to file a COVID-19 Complaint through the New York State Department of Labor. Depending on the wage and hour violation, you might also have a right to file a claim under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act law. Under this federal law, employers must pay all of their workers a minimum wage for every hour that they work. When the employee works over 40 hours in a week, the employer must pay an extra hourly wage.
Many employers are dealing with a decreased workforce. Employees have fallen ill and some parents have needed to take leaves of absence to engage in child care or helping their children with distance learning. Many of the employees who are still able to work full-time have been expected to take on lots of overtime while working from home. Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of work-from-home conditions and fail to pay their employees for all of the hours they’ve worked.
For example, if you have been working through your lunch breaks at home or taking on extra hours at home, you should receive payment for all of your working hours. Also, if your employer expects you to spend time preparing for Zoom meetings or you need to spend time setting up your at-home office, you should receive payment for doing so. If you suspect that your employer has shorted you for the time you’ve worked, the lawyers at Lipsky Lowe LLP can help.
Employers Have a Duty to Make Their Workplaces Safe
Employers cannot force you to work at a business that is not allowed to operate under the New York Re-Open guidelines. Your employer cannot make you report to work at a workplace when you are able to perform your job functions from home. Doing so violates Governor Cuomo’s regulations and will increase your risk of contracting COVID-19. If you have concerns that your employer is not taking the proper health and safety precautions, you might have a valid claim against your employer.
In addition to New York state and city guidelines, employers must comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Act which requires that employers make their workplaces “free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” If you have fallen ill at your workplace, you might have a valid claim for workers’ compensation or through a civil lawsuit.
Reasonable Accommodations Through the ADA
As New York businesses continue to re-open, many lawyers will expect their employees to come back to working in the office. What happens if you are an employee who is in a high-risk category when it comes to coronavirus? Patients with underlying health conditions are twelve times more likely to die from coronavirus than people who are otherwise healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If you have a qualifying medical disability under the federal American with Disabilities Act, your employer must make reasonable accommodations for your condition. If your medical condition places you at a higher risk of dying from coronavirus, your employer should allow you to continue to work from home even after everyone comes back. Now that many Americans have begun working from home, it will be harder for employers to prove that allowing employees to work from home causes them undue hardship.
Failure to Give Employees Adequate Notice Before Layoffs
The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, employers with 100 or more employees must give employees notice before engaging in lay-offs. Specifically, when an employer has 100 or more employees, they must give at least 60 days’ notice before laying off a certain number of employees. If this law covers your situation and your employer failed to give you enough notice, you could be entitled to back pay as well as penalties.
Employers will likely claim that they had to shut down because of “unforeseeable” circumstances, mainly, the coronavirus pandemic. Keep in mind, that employers cannot unlawfully discriminate when they decide which employees to keep and which employees to let go. For example, if a company mainly lets employees from a protected class, such as sex, race, or age, they could be liable for age discrimination.
Contact Our New York City Coronavirus Employment Issues Lawyer Today
If you suspect that your employer has treated you unfairly during the coronavirus pandemic, you might be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. The best way to find out whether or not you have a valid legal claim is to speak with an experienced coronavirus employment issues lawyer. Contact Lipsky Lowe LLP today to schedule your initial consultation.