While many employees who engaged in quarantine had no other reasonable choice, many employers have retaliated against them in violation of state and federal law, firing them for their failure to come to work. In weighing whether you can afford to stay home and self-quarantine, it is important to keep in mind that if you protest your employer making you go to work against lawful orders, you cannot be retaliated against.
In this time of crisis, McOmber McOmber & Luber is particularly concerned about protecting people’s employment rights and has prepared a brief list of important considerations as well as a set of FAQs to explain how federal and state laws can protect your job, your wages, and your livelihood.
You have the right to isolate yourself if:
- You are high-risk and have been advised by a doctor to self-quarantine;
- You have contracted the virus or have symptoms of the virus;
- You are serving as a caretaker for another person who has symptoms, has been diagnosed, is at home due to an isolation order, or whose school or place of care has been closed.
Employees who chose to engage in self-isolation during the coronavirus pandemic as a way of protecting themselves or others may be protected from retaliatory acts from their employers. Under federal law, specifically the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), an employee has a right to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work or work remotely (telework) because:
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order;
- The employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine;
- The employee is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a test and diagnosis;
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a state, local, or federal isolation order or who has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine;
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of child care has been closed; or
- The employee is suffering from “any other substantially-similar condition.”
In addition, recent New Jersey legislation prohibits employers from terminating or demoting employees who take, or request, time off due to an infectious disease, such as the coronavirus that could affect others at work based on a written recommendation of a doctor.
It also precludes an employer from refusing to reinstate the employee to the position held when the leave commenced with no reduction in seniority, status, employment benefits, pay or other terms and conditions of employment.