As quarantines expire, companies are preparing to return to the office. But, as you know, it is not as simple as sending an email telling your people to come back to work. There are regulations and rules to follow.
Our friends at Barnes & Thornburg are watching pending employment litigation across the country. What impacts a company in California may also be of concern to a New York business. These attorneys anticipate a flurry of activity, “We expect that this workplace litigation will take many forms, from single-plaintiff retaliation or discrimination claims directly related to the COVID-19 responses, to mass wage and hour class and collective actions.”
It is vital for leaders to be, at a minimum, aware of these types of cases. You can keep track of workplace litigation via this tracker.
Three Examples of COVID-Related Litigation
Family and Medical Leave Act
In Indiana, a plaintiff is seeking FMLA/FFCRA damages because she was unable to work as a result of providing childcare for her daughter. According to the suit, she notified her employer of the absence but didn’t receive approval for paid leave.
Note: Even as quarantines fade, some employees may not have reliable childcare. Accommodations may have to be made in compliance with FMLA.
Another case to watch comes from Texas. A kitchen worker alleges her employer threatened her with termination unless “she agreed to work without a face covering.” She went on to say, “the company was prohibiting employees from wearing masks or face coverings while at work.”
Note: You cannot expect employees to work the same way they did before the pandemic. Masks and sanitizers must become commonplace.
A Certified Nursing Assistant in Florida contests she was fired in violation of the Florida Whistleblower Protection Act and the federal Civil Rights Act of 1886. She says she was terminated after alerting the executive director to patient neglect and disturbing living conditions.
Note: Executives aren’t the only ones who need to understand rules and regulations – managers must be aware, too.
Although your business may not identify with the exact circumstances, there will be lessons to learn from the rulings in each case.
On Tuesday, June 2nd, Talentfoot Founder, Camille Fetter, is hosting a webinar with Barnes & Thornburg Partners, David Ritter, and Timo Rehbock to help you navigate the nuances of reopening your office.
Register here for this complimentary digital event. Sign up even if you can’t attend. We will send a recording of the session to all registrants. We hope to see you there!