Articles Posted in COVID-19

shutterstock_1062370478-300x200After more than a year living in a pandemic, many workers have grown used to working from home (WFH) and want to continue doing so, even as the country begins to edge closer to more re-openings. However, with more people getting vaccinated and Covid-19 rates decreasing in many states, some employers are pushing for their employees to return to their worksites. What happens for workers who don’t want to return? Is there a legal right to work from home?

 No Legal Right to Work Remotely

When public health orders are lifted and employees are cleared to return to the workplace, employers might have operational concerns to justify a distinction between essential and noncritical workers; they have the right to determine the worksite of any of their positions. Although people have been working from home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the pandemic does not change any existing labor laws.

shutterstock_1712819545-300x200In the early stages of the pandemic, it was up to the employees themselves to keep track of Covid-19 cases. Now, it is the  employers’ turn to let their employees know about the coronavirus, thanks to a California law. The Governor passed AB 685 on September 17, 2020.  It went into effect on January 1, 2021 and expires on January 1, 2023. This law requires employers to give specific notices about Covid-19 in the workplace.

 Notice Requirements for COVID-19 the workplace

California employers must provide their employees with written notice within 1 business day of getting notification of potential exposure of Covid-19. All employees (and employers of any subcontracted employees) who were at the common worksite as the worker who was diagnosed with Covid-19 during the infectious period must be notified.

shutterstock_17128195454-300x200Most employment is considered “at will.” This means that employees can be fired at any time without any warning and with no cause. However, there are times when your employer dismisses you that are illegal and are considered wrongful termination. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted some of these unlawful ways to get rid of employees. Here are categories for such examples:

Discrimination

An example of discrimination that occurs during the Coronavirus pandemic often involves persons with disabilities. You could be legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if you have a condition that makes it unsafe for you to go to work at your normal worksite because it makes you more vulnerable to getting Covid-19. If you requested an accommodation that would allow you to work remotely or in a way to minimize your risk rather than the worksite, but you were fired instead, that could be illegal. If your accommodation was reasonable (wouldn’t cause undue hardship or interfere with your ability to do your job), then you might have a claim for wrongful termination.

shutterstock_641208637-300x200If you’ve made the difficult decision to place your loved one into a nursing home, then you have weighed the advantages and disadvantages, made financial considerations, while keeping in mind what’s best for your family member’s well-being. The same reasoning should be applied when contemplating whether they should remain in the nursing home you chose. With the Covid-19 pandemic happening, many children, spouses, and other relatives wonder whether they should bring their loved one home during these unprecedented times, especially if there are known cases at the facility. Before you take steps to make this move, there are several issues to think about. Here are four factors to consider.

  1. The Nursing Home’s Response to the Covid-19 Crisis

How is the facility dealing with the coronavirus? Is the place understaffed? What procedures are being done to ensure the safety of the residents? Are there cases already there and what is the facility doing to isolate those who have the virus? Do the members of the staff use adequate PPE (personal protective equipment)? Focus on the testing practices for both the staff and the residents to help determine what to do. Also, think about the ratio of staff to residents.

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/12/20.12.18.jpgAlthough it may be difficult to do, employees have the right to say something when they believe that their employer has violated the law. If the employee has been harassed or mistreated, they should be able to voice their concerns about the employer’s wrongdoing without it impacting them negatively, such as a reduction in hours or outright firing. Fortunately, there are federal and state laws in place to protect workers from retaliation.

Definition of Workplace Retaliation

Employment retaliation occurs after an employee files a formal complaint about the workplace involving discrimination and/or harassment. The employer or company leader then takes negative action against the employee.

shutterstock_251528320-300x200Skilled Nursing facilities are places for seniors and others who don’t need hospitalization, but can no longer care for themselves at home. Unfortunately, the place that is supposed to be a safe haven is just the opposite when the residents are subjected to abuse. Compared to other forms, sexual abuse in nursing homes doesn’t occur as often, but it appears to be increasing. According to the Administration for Community Living, there have been over 20,000 complaints of sexual abuse in nursing homes over the past 20 years. This equates to be about three people being sexually abused at a nursing home every day.

Because there’s no national database, it’s difficult to know how extensive this problem really is. Given the stigma associated with sexual abuse and the illnesses such as dementia that many patients suffer, many cases go unreported. The Covid-19 panic has only made things worse due to social distancing that has made it more difficult to detect signs of abuse.

Definition of Sexual Abuse

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/10/20.10.02-003-300x200.jpgA nursing home is a private institution that provides a range of accommodations for elderly people and others in need of support. The CDC has found the risk of illness from COVID-19 increases greatly with age. Older adults with underlying health issues that contract the disease may face additional hospitalization, ventilators, intensive care, and even death. Due to the current global pandemic, it is no surprise nursing homes have been hit extremely hard by the respiratory virus.

Nursing Home Care During COVID-19

Many nursing homes have closed their doors to any visitors, so it is difficult to know what is truly going on in these facilities. Although not every coronavirus-death can be prevented, it is important nursing homes take the follow measures to protect their residents:

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/09/20.08.25-002-300x145.jpgMany California employees are starting to return from furloughs and remote work which was used to comply with state regulations and mitigate risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes may elderly and pregnant workers who are at higher risk for severe complications if they become infected with Coronavirus. Employers are prohibited by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from keeping these at-risk employees from working if they want to; this may lead to discrimination claims.

Discrimination claims also arise from violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities or who have elevated risk for serious cases of COVID-19. It is important for employees as well as employers to know California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) mandates that any employer with five or more workers make reasonable accommodations if appropriate; however, many employers and employees alike fail to understand what that means.

EEOC Accommodation Guidance

https://www.californiaelderabuselawyer-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/132/2020/07/shutterstock_1422187700-20.07.14-300x200.jpgIn 2018, 52 million Americans aged 65 and older accounted for 16 percent of the country’s population. The size of this group, set to nearly double in the next 40 years, accounts for the high demand of nursing home and long-term care needs in the United States. As people make the difficult decisions about the care of elderly loved ones, it’s reasonable to expect any facility tasked with caring for a family member to exhibit the highest levels of professionalism, compassion, and respect for them at all times.

Unfortunately, far too often this is not the case. Understaffing, lack of proper training, and insufficient supervision of staff members, nurses, nursing assistants, and health aides all contribute to the abuse of these vulnerable patients. It can be difficult to spot emotional or psychological abuse of a patient – unlike physical abuse that results in bruises or broken bones, they often don’t present obvious signs that something is going wrong.

The difficulty is even greater with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in family members being allowed little or no in-person contact with nursing home residents to visit and observe them for signs of abuse. However, it’s still possible to understand common types of emotional abuse and look for signs it may be occurring, even if the victim won’t admit outright that they are being abused.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, nursing home residents are among the hardest hit demographic and make up a large portion of the fatalities nationwide. Though the virus is undoubtedly deadly, especially for elderly individuals and those with compromised immunity, the concentration of deaths in nursing homes is concerning. Adding to that concern is the fact nursing homes are currently permitted to self-inspect as a result of the pandemic. The lack of oversight presents numerous issues we’ll explore more.

Independent Inspections Suspended

At the outset of the pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) decided to temporarily stop regular inspections at over 15,300 nursing home facilities nationwide to focus instead on the coronavirus threat. Instead, routine inspections were developed and implemented as a way to safeguard the residents. Unfortunately, when the government halted its own inspections, it authorized nursing home facilities to self-inspect.

Contact Information