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Scared of Returning to Work Amidst COVID-19? Know Here Are Your Options

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Many eateries and restaurants are now open in South Florida. Soon, malls, convenience stores, beauty parlors, and barbershops will reopen. Before you know it, your boss will call you and request you to return to work.

The thought of going back to work amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is scary. Should you or should you not go once your boss calls? Do you have legal rights? What if you got laid off or you were furloughed?

Were you fired under unclear circumstances in the name of COVID-19? We have your back! Call Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. at (561) 513-4376. We will fight for your employee rights in court and see that you are either reinstated, compensated, or both.

Your Options

In Florida, only your physician or doctor can place you in a no-work status. If your physician has cleared you to go back to work or you are not COVID-19 positive, you are legally required to make ‘a good faith effort’ to return to work. Besides, under Florida State laws, you forfeit your eligibility under Statute 440.15, for lost wage benefit payments.

Workplace Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration with its Occupational Safety and Health act requirements guide occupational exposure to COVID-19. These two laws are relevant as they include provisions on personal protective equipment standards that call for workplace modifications.

Additionally, these laws make it mandatory for employers to provide the necessary protective gear like masks, use of gloves at the workplace, and in some cases, use of respiratory protection.

Florida OSHA laws also feature the General Duty Clause, which states that employers can face fines if they fail to take affirmative steps to protect their workers’ health and safety.

Were you negligently exposed to COVID-19 by your employer? Don’t let it pass. Call Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. today at (561) 513-4376. We will not rest until you get the justice you deserve. We will also make sure you’ get compensation.

Returning To Work

Must you return to work if you’re getting unemployment? What if you’re getting more in unemployment than you did in your regular paycheck? First off, good for you if you’re getting unemployment at the moment in Florida. That’s because Florida’s unemployment rate climbed to just 12.9% in April 2020. That translates to 1.2 million Floridians.

It is also worth noting that as of March 12th, close to 2.1 million unemployment claims had already been filed in Florida. Out of this figure, 1.5 million were verified as individuals. This translates to 17% of Florida’s workforce. By mid-May, 88.2% of claims filed had been successfully processed. A backlog of more than 200,000 claims was reported with the figures rising.

The state of Florida has now paid more than $2 billion in unemployment benefits. Florida has also channeled a further $600 per person in Federal CARES Act on top of the state’s minimum $275 payout. Strangely, the figure trails smaller states such as Michigan, which paid out $5.6 billion.

Note that if you’re lucky enough to be called by your employer back to work and refuse, you quit your job. Besides, this means you won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits. Note too that the nationwide CARES At is set to expire in July.

Call Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. if your employer subjected you to unfavorable working conditions or exposed you to COVID-19. Let us fight for your deserved justice and compensation. Call us today at (561) 513-4376.

Interacting With Positive Colleagues

You probably don’t know this, but your employer is legally bound to let you know if someone in your workplace tested positive for coronavirus. However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) forbids your employer from revealing the infected person’s identity without his or her consent.

Should My Employer Check My Temperature?

Yes, your employer can and actually should, check your temperature before letting you into the workplace. This is a measure encouraged by the Federal government in a bid to curb the coronavirus from spreading.

On March 18th, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidelines confirming that it is now legally permissible to take employees’ temperature.

Additionally, your boss can now inquire from you if you have or if you are experienced COVID-19 symptoms. The Americans with Disabilities Act as well as the Rehabilitation Act recently made this possible.

Working Outside Your Job Description

Your employer may have gotten a paycheck protection program loan. He or she may have laid other employees off. Therefore, the employer may call you and request you to undertake tasks that were initially done by other employers.

Generally, your employer may assign you tasks outside your regular jobs or even fire you for refusing to do that work. This will most definitely jeopardize your unemployment claims. This does not apply to unionized employees.

Seek guidance from Americans With Disabilities, if you feel that the task your employer is assigning, you can make you sick or expose you to the coronavirus. You can also file a grievance with OSHA.

Other Laws

Many other laws come into play in the wake of the coronavirus and how the disease affects employment issues. There is, for instance, the  Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

This federal statute allows employees to take as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave solely for family or personal related medical issues. There is also the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law in March and The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

Call Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. today a (561) 513-4376. Let us discuss and review your predicament with our competent labor relations attorneys to establish how well you can be compensated for your COVID-19 employment woes. Keep in touch today for a free consultation.


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