COVID-19 has brought massive upheaval upon the American workplace. Employers have found themselves drafting and implementing policies and procedures addressing a wide array of issues including remote work, layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, workplace conditions and many more.
Not surprisingly, the uncertainty wrought by COVID-19 has left employers at an increased risk of exposure to employment-related claims alleging wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation and many others.
In this post today we'll cover the most common potential causes of action related to COVID-19 that may lead to employment-related litigation. As is the case with all inherently legal issues, employers are strongly advised to seek the guidance of legal counsel when faced with any of the claims discussed here.
WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY
There have already been a multitude of safety violation claims filed under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and state equivalents. These safety violations typically allege that an unsafe workplace has caused sickness and/or death due to COVID-19, or that an employer failed to take appropriate measures to reduce COVID-19 exposure and spread within the workplace.
Such “appropriate measures” might include failure to provide hand-washing stations, sanitizers, masks, or adequate protective gear on location. Other claims have alleged that employees have been unable to practice social distancing due to the nature of their jobs.