Less than half of working Americans had a paycheck in May, says Business Insider, due to the now-notorious COVID-19 layoffs.
However, employees who still have their jobs are facing different complications. For those working Americans who are especially susceptible to the potentially fatal virus, going to work can be dangerous.
Employees in the risk group aren’t the only ones facing hard decisions. Many employees in Baton Rouge who are being asked to go into work are not in the risk group, but they live with or care for someone who is.
You might be grateful to have your job, but that doesn’t mean you might not also be afraid to come to work. Some businesses remained open for all or most of the pandemic outbreak in the U.S., and some are just now starting to reopen.
What if you’re part of the risk group (or care for someone who is) but your employer is asking you to come back to your workplace?
Who Is In The COVID-19 Risk Group?
According to the CDC, conditions and risk factors include:
- Chronic kidney disease that’s treated with dialysis
- Chronic lung disease
- Hemoglobin Disorders
- Being Immunocompromised
- Liver disease
- People aged 65 years and older
- People in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
- Serious heart conditions
- Severe obesity
What Is Legally Required Of Your Employer?
If you are in the risk group, your employer can legally require you to come back to work, but they might be required to give you “special considerations.” The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make accommodations (within reason) for employees with disabilities. The ADA defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
According to Time, many of the conditions that the ADA lists as disabilities are also impairments that put individuals at higher risk of COVID-19. This means that if you are in the risk group, your employer might be legally required to make certain accommodations for you to decrease your chances of being exposed to the virus, which could include a paid leave of absence.
And eligible employees also have the right by law to take paid leave if they are caring for a family member who has a serious health condition. The Family and Medical Leave Act states that eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for a serious health condition that makes them unable to perform their job, or if they’re caring for a family member who has a serious health condition. You might be eligible for FMLA if you must care for a family member who has COVID-19, or if you must avoid possible exposure to the virus in order to protect an at-risk family member.
Can You Take Paid Leave To Avoid COVID-19?
If you are in the COVID-19 risk group and are unable to work from home, consider taking a paid leave of absence.
Experts say that in order to claim your ADA privileges, it’s best to have a medical professional document your condition. If a doctor determines that a leave of absence is necessary for your medical condition, your employer must – under most circumstances – allow you to take that leave.
Similarly, if you’re caring for someone with COVID-19, or you live with someone who is in the risk group, you might also be eligible for paid leave if your employer doesn’t let you work from home.
Does Your Employer Owe You Money?
Many people are losing their jobs because of the new coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you should suffer illegal treatment from your employer. If your employer has fired you but refused to pay you wages you have earned or is asking you to work but not paying you, you are entitled under law to file a wage claim case. Talk to an employment law attorney to find the best solution for your missing wages in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Were You Fired Because of a Disability?
Similarly, you might be able to file a lawsuit if your employer fires you because you took or requested FMLA, or lets you go because of your disability or medical condition.
If you were treated unjustly by your employer, or are missing wages that you earned, it’s time to talk to an employment law attorney to see what your case is worth. COVID-19 has created a lot of confusion and gray areas when it comes to job security, wage claims, and an employer’s right to layoff employees. But while these legal nuances can be hard to navigate, one thing is for certain: Miller, Hampton & Hilgendorf has your back! Contact our Baton Rouge office at 225-343-2205 or message us online.