During the outbreak of the coronavirus — a virus that is potentially deadly — many employees in New Jersey and across the nation were forced to quarantine after becoming infected or coming in contact with an infected person. There was simply no other viable option but to stay home in self-quarantine for a period of two weeks, which is the amount of time recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, some high-risk employees, such as those over age 65 or those with certain pre-existing medical conditions, chose to stay home as a way of protecting themselves from contracting the virus. 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. If you have been retaliated against for quarantining yourself during the coronavirus pandemic, the lawyers at the office of McOmber McOmber & Luber want to help. Call us today!
Employee Rights During the Coronavirus Pandemic
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.
If you have been retaliated against or terminated by your employer for exercising one of your protected rights to leave as described above, it is important that you consult with an attorney immediately. Remember, you have the right to isolate yourself if: (1) you are high-risk and have been advised by a doctor to self-quarantine; (2) you have contracted the virus or have symptoms of the virus; or (3) 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.
Call Our Employment Law Attorneys Today
Employers who have retaliated against employees who lawfully engaged in isolation or quarantine in order to protect themselves or others should be held accountable for their actions. If you have been retaliated against, our New Jersey employment lawyers at the office of McOmber McOmber & Luber want to help. We are available to serve you remotely and encourage you to reach out to our office online or by phone for the legal support you need.