Wrongful Termination During Covid-19

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.

Bringing Attention to Unsafe Conditions

You could have a claim for wrongful termination if you were let go because you raised concerns about your employer’s failure to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like face masks, or to take other measures to minimize the spread of COVID-19 at the worksite. Both state and federal law (the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)) states, your employer must provide a safe workplace, which is free of recognized hazards and they are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report such safety issues.

Taking Medical Leave

If you have to take time off from work for reasons related to the Coronavirus, you may be eligible to use the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). California also has its own FMLA, which is even more extensive than the federal law. Your employer risks a claim for wrongful termination if they fire you for taking leave, as long as you haven’t gone over the time limit. You also should not be fired for requesting leave.

Obeying Shelter-In-Place Orders

It’s prohibited for your employer to terminate you for refusing to perform an illegal act—like going to work in violation of an order in your state, city, or county that ordered all nonessential businesses to shut down during the pandemic.

Talk to an Employment Law Attorney about Wrongful Termination

If you suspect that you lost your job based on your employer’s illegal acts, then you may be interested in pursuing whether or not you have a valid claim for wrongful termination. Some of the issues brought on by the Coronavirus are unsettled, but an experienced Walton Law employment law attorney should be able to access how your situation will apply. Contact us immediately for help in resolving this conflict.

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