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Employee Rights During COVID-19



This is a terrifying time for many workers. A record number of businesses are furloughing, or even firing employees without notice. As always, The Law Offices of Tanya Gomerman is here to assist employees and independent contractors during their time of need. It is important, now more than ever that you know your rights as a worker in California. We have compiled some basic information answering common questions relating to COVID19. Please note that this list is not to be taken as legal advice, as it is not comprehensive. It is essential that you reach out to an attorney with specific questions relating to your case.


My employer is forcing me to take unpaid leave or have cut my hours, what can I do?


Many businesses are shut down due to a state-wide shelter in place order. As an employee, you can file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits with the California Employment Development Department (“EDD”). You only need to meet minimum requirements in order to receive benefits. There are also additional unemployment benefits offered under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that allows employees to have 39 weeks of UI benefits, including an additional $600 per month. To see if you are eligible, visit the EDD’s official website.


Due to my ethnicity or country of origin, my employer has fired me, cut my hours, or treated me differently from other employees. What can I do?


This is discrimination and is against the law. It is vital that you speak with an employment attorney as soon as possible to discuss what has occurred in your workplace. After getting all the details, we can direct you towards the next steps to take.


Can my employer ask about my past health to determine if I am at high risk for coronavirus?


No. Your health is your own private information. Your employer cannot ask about any health conditions that you may have. It is against the law.


I have traveled to an infected country recently. Does my employer have the right to require me to stay home for 14 days?


Yes. Travelers who have been to a country where coronavirus is prevalent is recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days. The list of countries is found on the CDC website.


I have coronavirus, and my employer has threatened to fire me, what can I do?


You can take paid sick days to assist you financially while you are infected with the coronavirus. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, if your employer has fewer than 500 employees, you will be allotted two weeks of additional Paid Sick Days. Additionally, you may be able to file for State Disability Insurance (SDI) through the EDD to help supplement your income while sick. You may also be protected through FMLA leave if your employer qualifies.


If you believe that you have gotten ill while at work, you may also be able to file a worker’s compensation claim. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for getting sick from coronavirus or filing a worker’s compensation claim.


If you have additional questions, please contact the Law Offices of Tanya Gomerman. Call 415-545-8608 to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our experienced employment attorneys.


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