Wrongfully Terminated in California After Complaining About COVID Safety Issues? Read This.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced employers to rethink workplace safety for their workers. Unfortunately, not every company has properly implemented these safety protocols to keep their employees protected.
It’s important to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS as an employee during these times.
It’s against the law for your employer to terminate or penalize you for:
- Filing a complaint against the company you work for.
- Refusing to work without proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Taking time off to recover from COVID-19 or to care for a loved one in your household who has the virus (in most cases).
Additionally, California employees now have even greater protections thanks to new laws that were passed this year. (Scroll down to the next section for the details.)
If you believe you were fired for one or more of the reasons listed above, or you felt you had to quit due to your employer’s failure to create a safe work environment during the pandemic, you should take legal action. You could be entitled to compensation, and it’s your right to seek the financial recovery you deserve.
Click here to learn about how our attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm can assist you.
It’s also helpful to brush up on the latest COVID-related protections for employees in California...
Additional Employee Protections: New California Laws for 2021
The California Legislature introduced the following brand-new laws in 2021 to expand protection for employees affected by COVID. Here’s a recap:
Paid family leave available for more employees
As of Jan. 1, workers of companies in California with five or more employees are now allowed to take up to 12 weeks of leave to take care of sick family members, with the assurance that they will not lose their jobs. Previously, this right was only extended to employees for companies with 50 or more employees. Under the new law, a “family member” can include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and in-laws, in addition to spouses and children.
Employers required to notify employees about possible exposure
New legislation requires businesses to inform employees within one business day upon learning about any potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace. With that notification, they must also provide employees with information about the company’s safety measures for combating the virus, information about workers’ compensation and sick leave, and protection from retaliation.
The employer is additionally required to notify local public health officials if the company experiences a COVID-19 outbreak, which is defined as three lab-confirmed cases in the workplace within a span of two weeks.
Expanded workers’ compensation eligibility for employees who get COVID
Before 2021, it was next to impossible for employees to qualify for workers’ compensation on the basis COVID-19, due to the fact that it’s difficult to prove where the virus is contracted.
In May 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom put the burden of proof on the employer for frontline workers. Under the governor’s order, frontline workers who came down with COVID-19 from March through July were presumed to have contracted the virus from work unless the employer was able to prove otherwise. This made them eligible for workers’ compensation.
A new California law in 2021 extends the timeline beyond July for healthcare workers and first responders, and it also applies the “disputable presumption” (the presumption that the virus was contracted at work) to all types of workers at businesses with five employees or more. However, the presumption only applies to those who were working during the time of an outbreak at the job site. (The outbreak must meet certain qualifying standards as set forth by the law.)
In short, it’s now a lot easier for all types of workers to qualify for workers’ compensation for COVID-related illness.
What to Do If You Your Rights Were Violated
Don’t let your former employer get away with illegal activity. Whether the violations occurred in 2020 or 2021, our employment law attorneys and class action lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm are here to help.
Click here to learn more about how our team can assist you. We offer FREE, no-obligation consultations!