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Coronavirus Employment Lawsuits

Your job is more than a job. It’s the stability you need to provide for yourself and your family, to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. During this global coronavirus pandemic and the financial fallout of COVID-19, you need this stability more than ever. But too many employers are using this crisis as an excuse to abandon their responsibilities to workers. Even employees who have been with a company for years – for decades – are being treated in unconscionable ways.

You never wanted to sue an employer. But you’re running out of options. What’s become abundantly clear over the course of the COVID-19 outbreak is that your employer isn’t showing you anywhere near the loyalty you have shown the organization.

It’s time to stop listening to the excuses. To stop giving management the benefit of a doubt. If your employer is failing to meet its legal duties, then it’s time to stand up for your legal rights.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Employment Lawsuits

  • Can I sue an employer for unpaid wages?

Everyone is under financial strain right now, but that’s no excuse for an employer to refuse to pay you the money you already earned. Yet that’s exactly what some companies have been caught doing, at the time employees are most vulnerable. Learn how you can sue an employer for not paying.

  • Can I sue an employer for wrongful termination?

No employee deserves to lose their job just for standing up for their legal rights. If you were fired for wanting to wear protective gear, calling out unsafe work environments or having coronavirus symptoms, you have legal recourse. Find out what constitutes wrongful termination and what you can do about it.

  • How much does it cost to sue your employer?

For many workers now forced into the unthinkable position of having to sue an employer just to protect themselves, money is a big obstacle. Employment lawsuits can be expensive, but lawyers who handle employment claims on a contingency basis or as a class action lawsuit won’t ask you to pay anything out of pocket for your lawsuit. Find out more about affording an attorney.

We know that it isn’t easy finding the courage to sue a former or even current employer. But you’re doing it for the right reasons – for the well-being of your family, for justice, for your colleagues who are being similarly exploited or mistreated. And you don’t have to do it alone.

When you hire a lawyer to sue your employer, you’re getting more than legal representation. You’re gaining an advocate who will fight tirelessly to protect your rights. The consultation is confidential, free, and puts no risk or pressure on you.

Call us today to find out more about your right to pursue a coronavirus employment lawsuit at no charge. 

Table of Contents 

Reasons to Sue an Employer During the COVID-19 Outbreak

You weren’t looking for a lawsuit. All you were trying to do was keep yourself afloat during a time of crisis.

But your employer crossed a line. Now you’re wondering if your company’s actions are sufficient grounds to sue your employer.

The most common reasons workers are suing their employers during the coronavirus pandemic include:

  • Being denied payment for work they have already performed
  • Being denied overtime payment, hazardous duty pay, or meal and rest breaks
  • Having to put up with an employer violating wage and hour laws while they are working from home during the pandemic
  • Being fired for wearing face masks, gloves, and other protective gear
  • Being fired for “whistleblowing” or for complaining or speaking publicly about unsafe working conditions or safety procedures
  • Being forced to work while sick or without appropriate safety measures, including personal protective gear and disinfecting supplies

These actions are unacceptable. The current pandemic endangers all of us, physically and financially, and yet the companies engaging in these practices are only looking out for their own profits, not the well-being of their workers.

COVID-19 Wage and Hour Claims

When you sue an employer for labor practices like failure to pay for previous work completed, failing to pay overtime or hazardous duty pay as appropriate or requiring off-the-clock work, these matters generally fall under the category of wage and hour claims.

Employers have an obligation to follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as well as any state or local labor laws. When they don’t, you have the right to hold them accountable.

COVID-19 has brought on unprecedented challenges in employment, as in other areas. The United States Department of Labor has issued guidance on COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act Questions and Answers, as well as on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, to help employers who are acting in good faith to navigate these changes.

Claiming that they can’t or don’t know how to comply with labor laws is one of the excuses used by the companies who aren’t acting with their employees’ well-being in mind.

How to Sue an Employer for Unpaid Wages

A lot of businesses have closed at least temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving employees out of work. But some of these companies didn’t bother to pay employees their final paycheck – the money they earned for work they already did and which the business already benefited from.

Failure to pay employees for hours worked is clearly illegal, but employers have made national headlines for this major labor law violation.

Hair Cuttery, a chain of more than 800 hair salons in 16 states, has been named in not one, but two failure to pay lawsuits.

  • The first class action lawsuit, filed in New Jersey on April 7th, represents a class exceeding 100 stylists, according to Bloomberg Industry Group. Although the salon chain remained open during the week of March 15th through 21st, hair stylists claim that they were not paid for the hours worked during this week.
  • On April 20th, a second lawsuit was filed in Florida, this time on behalf of a class of at least 500 stylists who were still waiting on their final paychecks almost two weeks after they should have been delivered, Bloomberg Industry Group reported.

Another company being sued for unpaid wages is Tableside Restaurant Group, which operates 5 restaurant brands and which allegedly withheld pay from at least 70 servers for the two-week pay period between March 17th and 31st, according to Law 360.

If you have to sue an employer for not paying you for the work you have already performed, you will need an attorney. Coronavirus employment lawsuits are complex – not a matter you can handle yourself.

Too many employers don’t take seriously their employees’ demands for prompt payment. They may give you conflicting information, brush off your attempts to get answers, or even give you responses that are against the law – like that you won’t be paid for your work until this crisis passes and the economy bounces back.

When confronted with a lawsuit, these employers have to finally get their act together. An attorney won’t settle for this sort of unethical and incomprehensible runaround that companies too often get away with giving their workers.

What to Expect From a Failure to Pay Employment Lawsuit

For plaintiffs, the process of suing an employer for unpaid wages is fairly straightforward. Once you retain an attorney for a COVID-19 employment claim, your lawyer takes over the responsibility for the case. This includes:

  • Investigating the matter to gather evidence that supports your claim for compensation
  • Identifying any additional members of a class if your claim is deemed a class action
  • Handling all interactions with the defendant’s legal representation

When you need to participate in any legal proceedings, your lawyer will let you know what’s expected of you and answer any questions you may have.

Not paying employees for the work they have already done is illegal in the best of economic times, but doing so at a time when so many people are struggling financially is particularly brutal.

Often, the news that you’re not getting paid comes on the heels of a layoff. This double-whammy means you’ve lost your source of future income and had the wages you’re entitled to taken away from you.

Did You Know…?

You may also have the grounds for a failure to pay suit if you worked as an independent contractor and your client has refused to pay for the work you have already performed.

You may also have the grounds for a failure to pay suit if you worked as an independent contractor and your client has refused to pay for the work you have already performed. Your rights and opportunities for legal recourse may depend on where you live. In New York City, for example, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act specifically protects freelancers and independent contractors from client non-payment situations.

COVID-19 Unpaid Overtime Claims

Being “essential” never felt so exhausting.

For those still working in essential service roles, your job has become a whole lot harder, more stressful, and more hazardous. You’re likely working longer hours than ever – and you may not be getting paid what you’re owed.

Some examples – nowhere near an exhaustive list – of the essential workers who are working long shifts or extra shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Healthcare technicians and other healthcare professionals
  • Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
  • Administrative workers in hospitals and healthcare facilities
  • EMTs and paramedics
  • Police Officers
  • Firefighters
  • 911 dispatchers
  • Food and agriculture workers
  • Grocery store employees
  • Truck drivers
  • Janitors, custodians, and cleaning professionals
  • Workers involved in manufacturing and transporting PPE, medical equipment, and other crucial supplies
  • Public health officials and researchers searching for cures and vaccines

Every essential worker is playing a crucial part in keeping society safe during this crisis. They deserve immense gratitude for braving the dangers they face daily during these long workweeks. But not every company is doing their fair share.

Your Employer’s Responsibility to Pay Overtime

Did You Know…?

Understanding who is and is not exempt from overtime pay under the combination of federal, state, and local laws that applies in your area can be challenging. If you call a lawyer for a coronavirus employment lawsuit for a free consultation about a potential unpaid overtime claim, we can help you understand the rules and regulations that apply to your situation.

Paying employees for the overtime they work isn’t optional. It’s not a gift from your employer – it’s a benefit employers are legally required to pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. All non-exempt employees must receive at least one and one-half of their regular pay rate for all hours worked over 40 hours in a single workweek, the federal Department of Labor reported. State and local laws and company policies may provide overtime pay at higher rates than required by federal law.

Employers may use the following excuses to try to get out of paying workers the overtime rates they deserve – but none of these excuses are acceptable under the law:

  • Claiming that an employee is exempt when that employee does not warrant exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Requiring the employee to work while off the clock
  • Claiming that the company “can’t afford” to pay overtime due to the financial consequences of COVID-19

If you think you may have a claim for unpaid overtime, it’s worth learning more about your legal rights. Find out how a COVID-19 employment lawsuit attorney can help.

Securing Hazard Pay for Essential Workers

Your job is more dangerous now than you ever expected. If you’re one of the workers who qualifies for hazardous duty pay under federal law or a private employment contract, then now is certainly a time when you deserve that extra money. You’re working hard for it – and putting your own health, and quite possibly your family, at risk.

Already, lawsuits have been filed by workers who are legally entitled to hazardous duty pay. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest union of federal workers, filed a lawsuit in late March to secure hazard pay for a class of federal workers that includes federal employees that are still working in essential services, including corrections officers at federal prisons.

The U.S. Department of Labor defines hazard pay as “additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship.” Although private companies are not required by federal law to provide hazard pay, the federal government is. Private businesses may owe you hazard pay if this type of compensation is promised in your employment contract or in company policies.

Hazardous duty pay can increase your income considerably, so if you think you’re entitled to this additional pay, it’s well worth finding out more about your legal options. Federal employees can earn as much as 25 percent of their full salary in hazardous duty pay, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported. There has been support for a push at the federal level to include up to $25,000 in hazard pay for essential workers in a forthcoming stimulus bill, Forbes reported.

You shouldn’t have to sue your employer just to get hazard pay in the midst of a pandemic that is claiming lives all over the world. If your job exposes you to a greater risk of infection by requiring you to be on-site and in close contact with potentially infected people or with patients with a positive coronavirus diagnosis, you should be receiving any hazard pay for which you are eligible.

Did You Know…?

Some large private-sector companies have instituted new hazard pay policies, in the form of a bonus or hourly raise, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, ABC News reported” . If you believe that you should qualify for these bonuses but your employer is telling you otherwise, it might be time to speak to an attorney. 

Yet the financial situation that makes hazardous duty pay especially important right now may also deter your employer from paying it. The state of the economy is not an acceptable reason to fail to pay employees what they are owed. Remember, an employer is legally required to pay you hazardous duty pay if stated by federal law (in the case of federal government employees), state or local laws, or a private company’s employment contract or official company policies.

Wage and Hour Issues When Working Remotely

Working from home is more work than going to work. It’s a sentiment shared by many during the coronavirus outbreak. You may be fortunate enough to work from home – still earning a living without risking infection – but that doesn’t negate your rights as an employee.

In positions that allow for telecommuting, working from home during this crisis can help limit your exposure and minimize the burden COVID-19 places on healthcare systems. However, especially for workers and employers who are new to remote work arrangements, it can also open up a host of violations of wage and hour laws.

Some of the pitfalls of working from home may include unclear or unrealistic employer expectations regarding matters like:

  • Work schedules
  • The employee’s capacity for productivity
  • Technological capabilities and security

Work-from-home circumstances during the COVID-19 outbreak can be further complicated by medical issues or childcare obligations due to school and daycare closures. As a result, workers may need to work unusual hours or require other modifications to make this unusual situation work.

Flexibility on the part of both employer and employee can go a long way toward helping employees continue to work safely, but it is possible for a worker to be too flexible – even in a crisis situation like this.

During the coronavirus pandemic, some employers are taking advantage of their work-from-home employees by:

  • Asking them to “help out” by doing work from home without pay
  • Expecting them to work “off the clock,” or during unpaid time
  • Expecting them to work overtime without getting paid for that time
  • Expecting them to be “on call” but not paying them for that time
  • Not compensating workers for business expenses of working remotely, if your state or local laws require employers to cover these costs
  • Failing to provide accommodations for employees with disabilities
  • Otherwise violating any wage and hour laws

Even employers who don’t mean to break the law may do so unintentionally when employees are telecommuting. A joint study by Eurofound and the International Labour Office discovered that a “lack of clear boundaries” between work and personal life that can occur while telecommuting – and even more so during this disease outbreak – puts remote employees “at greater risk of working in their free time (their non-paid work time)” than on-site employees.

Even well-intentioned flexible working schedules in fact resulted in family life being

infringed upon,” some researchers noted, because “working unpaid overtime at home… increases feelings of guilt about neglecting home issues.”

In a time when mass layoffs have become the norm, remote workers often fear coming forward about wage and hour violations.

Their employers may say or imply that they are lucky enough to have a job (which may be true) and to be able to work from home (also true), so they shouldn’t complain about unpaid work or other labor law violations (definitely not true – or legal).

You’ve done your part. Quarantine is an exhausting blur of never-ending work responsibilities that you can’t just “leave at the office,” and it feels like everything about your home life is slipping through the cracks. This isn’t sustainable, and it isn’t fair.

What makes the stakes particularly high in this situation is that workers are understandably reluctant to sue their current employer. You may think it’s better to go along with an employer violating wage and hour laws than to lose your job, especially when the state of the economy is making it difficult to find work.

Rest assured that, when you reach out to our attorneys for a coronavirus employment lawsuit, the conversation is confidential, as well as free. Your employer doesn’t have to find out that you reached out to a lawyer or that you are considering a lawsuit.

We can help you better understand your legal rights, what you may stand to gain from a lawsuit, and whether moving forward with a claim is worthwhile in your situation.

COVID-19 Wrongful Termination and Whistleblower Claims

At a time when our society needs them the most, essential employees are being fired by their employers for reasons that go against labor laws, health and safety mandates, and common decency.

  • Nurses have been let go from hospitals overrun with COVID-19 patients, allegedly for talking about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Grocery store employees lost their jobs after being reprimanded wearing gloves at work.
  • In nursing homes and long-term care facilities – where deadly coronavirus outbreaks have accounted for nearly half of all deaths in some states – workers reported being fired after calling out practices that go against health and safety mandates from federal and state public health agencies.

It is unfair for workers to lose their jobs for demanding the right to protect themselves while working. If you got fired in connection with workplace safety concerns pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have the grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit or a whistleblower lawsuit.

Federal law guarantees employees the right to a safe workplace – one that is “free of known health and safety hazards,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported.

During this infectious disease outbreak, what constitutes a “safety hazard” has changed drastically. During a time when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are recommending that everyone cover their nose and mouth with a mask in public settings and that healthcare workers wear facemasks, respirators, and gloves to minimize the risk of infection, being forced to work without proper PPE may be enough to constitute an unsafe work environment.

Did You Know…? 

Not only is it illegal under OSHA for an employer to fire a worker for complaining about unsafe work conditions, but it is also illegal for the employer to retaliate in other ways, such as demoting or transferring the employee. 

OSHA also guarantees that workers have “the right to speak up about” health and safety concerns in the workplace “without fear of retaliation.”

It’s not okay for an employer to illegally fire you for wanting to work in a safe environment. And this isn’t behavior you should just ignore, either. Don’t give an employer who is in the wrong a pass on these illegal practices.

Suing an employer for a COVID-19-related wrongful termination is as important for the benefit of other workers in the industry as it is for you personally. Until your former employer is held accountable for its unsafe work practices and wrongful terminations, nothing will change. That company will continue to put at risk the lives of its workers and to put anyone who dares to voice their valid health and safety concerns out of a job.

Suing for Wrongful Termination

Adding to the complexity of the coronavirus outbreak’s impact on work environment safety is a widespread shortage of protective gear. Because employers have a hard time getting enough PPE to go around, some are asking employees to go without or even refusing to allow workers who acquire their own PPE to use it.

Did You Know…?

If you are aware of an unsafe working condition during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have the right to file a health and safety complaint with OSHA

It’s especially alarming that healthcare professionals like nurses are being suspended or fired over employment issues stemming from insufficient PPE when working with sick patients – particularly, those with a confirmed positive coronavirus diagnosis.

Many of the COVID-19 wrongful termination lawsuits filed so far have been on behalf of healthcare professionals, like nurses, whose employers compromised their safety with their irresponsible approach toward matters of PPE. However, other essential workers, like grocery store employees, have also come forward with claims of wrongful termination.

To sue your employer for unfair termination, you will need to start by finding an attorney who can investigate whether your employer’s actions were illegal under OSHA COVID-19 standards and other federal, state, and local laws that pertain to health and safety in the workplace.

Fortunately, once you hire a COVID-19 wrongful termination lawyer, your attorney will take over every aspect of managing the claim. It’s no longer your responsibility to get to the bottom of things, to wade through the complex statutes of labor laws and company policies. Instead of continuing to interact with an employer who has treated you so poorly, you’re handing this burden off to a professional.

What Situations May Count as Whistleblowing During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

A whistleblower is someone who reports an organization for activities that are illegal, unethical or otherwise inappropriate. Although it is not legal for a company to retaliate against a whistleblower, that often does happen. This retaliation is what drives a whistleblower complaint to OSHA as well as a civil lawsuit against the company.

Did You Know…?

An employer can face both an OSHA investigation and an individual or class action lawsuit over whistleblower retaliation.

An employer can face both an OSHA investigation and an individual or class action lawsuit over whistleblower retaliation. The difference is that, although an OSHA investigation may get the company fined or cause it to face other regulatory consequences, a private civil lawsuit is what’s needed to get compensation for an individual worker.

In the case of employee whistleblower matters pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak, whistleblower lawsuits often revolve around reporting a company for health and safety violations. Potential COVID-19 whistleblower claims may include being fired, suspended, or otherwise retaliated against after:

  • Speaking publicly or to the media about a lack of PPE in the workplace
  • Complaining to colleagues or management about the availability or quality of PPE provided, if either is not up to standards expressed by public health and workplace health and safety mandates
  • Bringing up to management or outside regulators work conditions or practices that are not in line with current health and safety mandates
  • Expressing a desire to wear masks, gloves, or other protective gear during your shift or bringing in your own protective gear
  • Using paid or unpaid sick time promised to you in company policies, your employment contract, or laws like the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act to recover from COVID-19 or self-quarantine after suspected exposure to the virus

Under health and safety mandates from the CDC and other public health organizations, it may be out of line for an employer to deny a worker the opportunity to wear some form of protective gear, such as a cloth mask, while at work. If working directly with patients with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, the worker is at greater risk and the need for more effective PPE is greater.

As a result, a situation that might not qualify as a violation of health and safety laws and mandates in a retail store may qualify as such in a long-term care facility or in a hospital emergency room or ICU where workers are routinely exposed to symptomatic COVID-19 patients.

What Protections Am I Entitled to as a Whistleblower?

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers must not retaliate against workers who express concerns pertaining to workplace health and safety conditions, OSHA reported.

OSHA recognizes many different forms of retaliation, including:

  • Job termination, layoff, or intentional worsening of work conditions to prompt quitting
  • Demotion, transfer, or reassignment
  • Denial of an expected promotion
  • Unfair denial benefits or opportunities for overtime
  • Reduction in hours or pay rate
  • Harassment, threats, ostracization, or blacklisting

If these retaliatory actions occur, it’s time to bring in a whistleblower attorney for a COVID-19 employment lawsuit.

Your work situation isn’t going to get better on its own – not with your employer first endangering your health and then engaging in illegal actions to get back at you for daring to address legitimate health and safety concerns.

Suing an Employer for an Unsafe Work Environment

Did You Know…?

Employers are unlikely to offer compensation to sick workers or the families of employees who pass away without a fight.

Suppose an employee continues to work in an unsafe environment – without protective gear and social distancing measures imposed, for example – and then becomes ill with COVID-19. The employer may be legally responsible for exposing the worker to the coronavirus, and for the potentially life-threatening complications that result.

Often, those suing an employer for endangerment aren’t the workers themselves, but the family of an employee who has become severely ill or has lost their life to COVID-19. Walmart became the first employer to face an employee wrongful death lawsuit after 51-year-old Wando Evans passed away. His family, who filed the suit, blame the company’s handling of workplace health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic for his death.

However, in certain instances, employees themselves may sue for personal injury of exposure or contraction of COVID-19, as a class of cruise ship workers did in mid-April, Bloomberg Industry Group reported.

Employers are unlikely to offer compensation to sick workers or the families of employees who pass away without a fight. For example, it took pressure from the Transport Workers Union of America and Transport Workers Union Local 100 to prompt New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to award $500,000 to the families of bus operators, subway tower operators, and other workers who lost their lives to COVID-19, Law 360 reported.

Did You Know…?

Getting COVID-19 could be devastating financially as well as physically. An uninsured Massachusetts woman got a shock when her coronavirus testing and treatment stuck her with a bill for nearly $35,000, TIME reported. If your employer is the one who exposed you to COVID-19, shouldn’t the company – not you – be the one on the hook for these costs?

You may have the grounds for some form of personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against an employer if:

  • Through intentional actions – like the failure to provide PPE or to follow health and safety mandates – the employer created a work environment that caused the employee to become ill, and 
  • Significant injury, such as severe and long-term complications or death, resulted.

If the respiratory illness resulted in a hospitalization stay that racked up large medical bills or if complications from the disease led to long-term harm such as permanent lung damage, brain injury, or limb loss, it’s a good idea to speak to an attorney for a COVID-19 personal injury claim right away.

In certain situations, you may also have the option of moving forward with a class action claim – a single lawsuit that represents multiple people making the same legal claim – over COVID-19 exposure.

Like other claims of this nature, coronavirus personal injury matters are fact-specific, depending heavily on the unique details of your situation. You can start finding out about your family’s legal rights by discussing your circumstances with a COVID-19 injury attorney who offers a free consultation.

When to Sue Your Employer

Did You Know…?

There are time limits that affect how long you have to sue an employer. The statute of limitations is different for different types of claims, different types of labor law violations, and even different types of defendants. Some time limits are measured in years and others in days, so the sooner you begin moving your claim forward, the better.

Suing your employer isn’t your first choice. But you’ve tried respectfully bringing your concerns to management, and they have been ignored, dismissed with empty platitudes, or even gotten you fired.

Should you just wait until the COVID-19 pandemic ends and see if this whole thing blows over?

Absolutely not. Your family is suffering due to your employer’s actions. Thanks to the company for which you have loyally worked – quite possibly for years – you may be unable to keep paying the bills, be out of a job completely, or be risking your life without appropriate pay or protective gear.

The time to take action is now. Before failing employers get closer to bankruptcy, before companies that have been irresponsibly managing the health and safety of their workplaces put even more employees at risk, you need to get an attorney for a coronavirus employment lawsuit on your side.

You Can Afford a Lawyer for a Coronavirus Employment Claim

In an original survey we conducted of more than 1,000 American adults – across all age groups, genders, geographical regions, and income levels – more than half of respondents said they would be reluctant to contact an attorney because of the cost.

And that was before the coronavirus became a global pandemic that tore down economies and left tens of millions of Americans unemployed.

Why might you be reluctant to contact an attorney?

Console, Richard. Console and Associates, P.C. “2020 Public Perception of Attorneys, Insurance Companies & Lawsuits.” Powered by Survey Monkey.

Right when you need legal help the most, you’re also least able to afford the exorbitant costs of hourly attorneys’ fees. What most people don’t know is that attorneys for different types of legal matters may operate under different types of fee arrangements.

Many attorneys for plaintiffs’ matters provide legal representation on a no-win, no-fee basis that will allow you to move forward with your claim with no risk and no upfront costs.

Some of the types of COVID-19 employment lawsuits an attorney may handle on a no-win, no-fee basis may include:

  • Unpaid wages
  • Unpaid overtime
  • Wrongful termination
  • Whistleblower retaliation
  • Wrongful death, personal injury, or workers’ compensation matter due to workplace health and safety issues
Did You Know…?

Seeking legal representation begins with a free, confidential consultation. You don’t have to worry that your employer will find out that you’re thinking about taking legal action. You can discuss your legal matter and options with an experienced professional. You only have to move forward with a lawsuit if you decide that’s what you want to do – and if not, the fact that you looked into suing remains confidential.

A lawsuit against your employer may be an individual lawsuit or form part of a class action claim. An individual lawsuit covers only your harm and unique circumstances, while a class action case seeks justice and compensation for a class of plaintiffs who were harmed in the same or similar ways by the same or similar defendants.

Either matter type of matter may qualify for legal representation on a contingency basis, which means that plaintiffs only pay for their attorneys’ services if their lawyers get them a settlement or jury award.

Employment lawsuits that fall into the category of a class action lawsuit – like failure to pay or mass wrongful termination claims – typically include a “fee petition” by the attorneys representing the class of plaintiffs. The judge involved in the class action case decides from this fee petition how much money the lawyer deserves and awards attorneys’ fees from the settlement.

Suing employers on a no-win, no-fee basis is crucial because this process makes legal representation accessible to everyone – not only those who can afford to pay any price to attain it.

Regular people, workers who have lost their jobs, families who have lost a breadwinner to COVID-19 – anyone who has the grounds for a viable claim can afford to hire an experienced attorney to handle their legal matter when a law firm offers representation on a contingency fee basis. It’s the only way to make things fair.

COVID-19 Employment Lawsuit FAQs

1. Can I Sue a Government Employer?

If you work for the government, you may wonder if you retain the right to pursue a lawsuit against your employer.

Although government entities may have immunity in some situations, it is certainly possible to sue a government employer under the right circumstances. In fact, workers are already suing government employers over matters like providing the hazardous duty pay federal workers are entitled to under federal employment law.

2. If My Employer Requires Me to Work From Home, Am I Entitled to Be Paid for That Time?

If you’re working, whether it’s on-site or at home, you are entitled to payment for that work.

Asking you to work off the clock, even from home, is a violation of federal wage and hour laws and can be grounds for an employee to file a lawsuit.

3. Am I Entitled to Hazard Pay?

The infectious virus that causes COVID-19 has made workplaces once widely considered to be safe much more dangerous. As a result, hazardous duty pay may now be warranted in situations where it once wasn’t even a consideration.

Not every worker is entitled to hazard pay under the law. In fact, only federal employees are legally entitled to hazard pay under federal law. Some federal employees and employment unions have already launched lawsuits against the federal government demanding hazard pay for employees who are still working in environments that could expose them to the coronavirus.

There may also be state or local laws in your area that could make you eligible for hazard pay, even if federal laws do not.

You might also be entitled to hazard pay as part of your employment contract. Private employers may or may not choose to offer hazardous duty pay benefits, but if they do provide for these benefits in employment contracts, written company policies, or other official documents, you may be able to claim those benefits under the hazards posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Your private-sector employer is required to honor your employment contract, even during a time of crisis. If your employer allows for hazardous duty pay but is denying those benefits during this outbreak, you may have the grounds for a lawsuit.

4. If I Get Sick With the Coronavirus or Have to Care for a Sick Family Member, Am I Allowed to Take Time Off From Work?

Workers who are sick with COVID-19, need to take care of a sick family member, or must be available to care for children who are home due to daycare and school closures may be protected from losing their job.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), workers may take up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave. Additionally, the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act provides partially paid leave of up to two weeks for illness, quarantine, or childcare, as well as an additional 10 weeks of partially paid childcare leave.

Not all employers and employees are covered by these laws, which may include limitations based on the size of the business and the length of time the worker has been employed and the amount of work they perform for the company. Leave under the FMLA may only be used once in a 12-month period, so you may not have these job protections if you were previously out of work on FMLA to bond with a new baby or a newly adopted child or to care for a sick loved one.

If you need to take time off of work due to COVID-19 and your employer tells you that you aren’t eligible for job-protected leave, it may help to speak to an attorney who can clarify how federal, state, and local employment laws apply to your situation.

5. Can I Sue an Employer for Laying Me Off?

The extensive job losses workers across numerous industries have suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic only compounds this tragedy. However, not all job losses that arise out of COVID-19 are the grounds for a lawsuit.

A wrongful termination means that you are losing your job for a reason that goes against the law, such as voicing health and safety concerns. If your company closed temporarily or permanently went out of business and you were laid off because there is no work to do, that typically does not qualify as wrongful termination.

In this case, however, you should be able to access benefits such as unemployment insurance. During the COVID-19 crisis, unemployment benefits have been expanded to include workers even who traditionally have not been eligible to claim benefits, to extend the timeframe during which you are eligible for benefits, and to increase unemployment benefits by $600 per week above the usual rate under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. However, how individual states choose to carry out expanding unemployment insurance may affect your eligibility and how long it may take you to get benefits.

Did You Know…?

Under non-crisis circumstances, certain employers are required to give workers 60 days’ written notice of impending mass layoffs under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

Under non-crisis circumstances, certain employers are required to give workers 60 days’ written notice of impending mass layoffs under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. However, this law only applies to companies that have a certain number of employees and will be laying off at least 50 workers at one location. Further, language excluding layoffs that arise from “unforeseeable business circumstances, faltering companies, and natural disasters” will most likely mean that coronavirus-related job losses are exempt from the WARN Act.

In certain layoff situations, you may have the grounds for a lawsuit even if you were not wrongfully terminated. Generally, these situations occur when an employer denies payment or benefits that were either promised to you in your employment contract or are required by state or local laws.

For example, if your contract states that you will receive severance pay but your employer is refusing to pay, or if your state requires you to receive compensation for unused paid time off and the company has not done so, you may have the grounds for a lawsuit.

6. What If I’m an At-Will Employee?

Most employment relationships across the United States are at-will. But that doesn’t give your employer a free pass to ignore labor laws.

The National Conference of State Legislatures defines at-will employment as meaning that “an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability.”

Your employer still is required to obey laws pertaining to wage and hour matters and issues of workplace safety. There are also laws in place to protect whistleblowers from unfair employer retaliation.

Even if you’re an at-will employee, you may have a case if you were fired for unjust reasons such as wanting to wear PPE during your shift to protect yourself. And, regardless of whether or not your employment is at-will, your employer is still required to pay you for the hours you previously worked in a timely manner and to pay overtime as required by federal law and laws in your jurisdiction.

Your employer may suggest that you have no legal recourse as an at-will employee. But isn’t it a wiser decision to find out for yourself whether this is true – at no cost – by speaking with an attorney for a coronavirus employment lawsuit about your unique situation?

COVID-19 Employment Lawsuit News

4/21/2020 – Bloomberg Industry Group – A second class of hair stylists filed a lawsuit in Florida alleging Hair Cuttery’s failure to pay wages earned during the week before the salon closed due to the pandemic.

4/16/2020 – OregonLive – An employee at a Portland, Oregon, long-term care facility filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that she was fired after raising concerns that large gatherings of residents within the nursing home went against federal health and safety warnings.

4/16/2020 – LEO Weekly – A former Loiusville, Kentucky, Trader Joe’s employee has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his employer, alleging that he was fired after speaking out against safety concerns that included being prohibited from wearing gloves while working.

is suing the grocery chain, saying he was wrongfully fired after raising concerns about health and safety conditions while working there during the epidemic.

4/16/2020 – Los Angeles Daily News – After at least 15 nurses at a hospital refused to work without the recommended N95 respirator masks while treating coronavirus patients, 10 nurses reported being suspended by their employer.

4/15/2020 – Bloomberg Industry Group – A class of crew members who contracted COVID-19 or were put at heightened risk of developing the respiratory disease due to exposure while working on cruise ships filed a lawsuit against Celebrity Cruises Inc.

4/15/2020 – Fox News – A Colorado nurse practitioner who took an unpaid leave of absence from her job at a pediatric clinic to volunteer as part of a COVID-19 crisis response team in New York City. Although the nurse practitioner claims that her employer was initially “supportive” of her taking unpaid leave to volunteer, her employer subsequently asked her to resign and then terminated her position, stating that the clinic “was unable to grant” the leave of absence after all, she alleges.

4/14/2020 – Tribune-Review – Two Aramark employees, a mother and son, filed a lawsuit alleging that their employer fired them after they self-quarantined in accordance with a doctor’s guidance pursuant to possible COVID-19 exposure.

4/14/2020 – Law 360 – Under pressure from the Transport Workers Union of America and Transport Workers Union Local 100, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority agreed to pay a $500,000 COVID-19 death benefit – instead of the usual $50,000 “active duty” benefit – to the families of workers who died from coronavirus infection.

4/8/2020 – Bloomberg Industry Group – A New Jersey hair stylist initiated a class action lawsuit against her employer, Hair Cuttery, alleging that the company failed to pay stylists for hours worked during the week of March 15th through 21st, the final week before the COVID-19 outbreak closed the salon.

4/8/2020 – ABC News – The family of 51-year-old Illinois Walmart worker Wando Evans filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his employer, alleging negligence on the part of Walmart. The family reportedly blames Walmart for exposing Evans to the virus, claiming that the retailer failed to provide adequate PPE and enforce social distancing measures within the work environment.

4/1/2020 – Houston Chronicle – A Houston emergency room nurse responsible for testing the sickest patients for COVID-19 was left fighting for his life.

3/31/2020 – Bloomberg Industry Group – Administration at hospitals across the United States, including New York, Illinois, and Washington state, have come under fire for allegedly threatening to terminate doctors and other healthcare professionals who speak to the media about working conditions, and particularly the lack of PPE, during the coronavirus outbreak.

3/30/2020 – Law 360 – The American Federation of Government Employees union has filed a class action lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims seeking hazard pay on behalf of a class of plaintiffs that includes corrections officers at federal prisons, food safety inspectors at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and health care providers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

3/27/2020 – The Seattle Times – An emergency room doctor at a hospital in Bellingham, Washington, who had been outspoken in his public pleas for protective equipment was fired. The physician alleges that his employer asked him to take down social media posts referencing the lack of PPE and threatened him with job termination for speaking to the media about working conditions.

3/26/2020 – The New York Times – After a nurse manager at a Manhattan hospital became the first nurse in New York to die from the coronavirus, his colleagues described an alleged lack of PPE at the hospital.

3/24/2020 – Law 360 – A nurse at a Chicago hospital filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against her employer, alleging that she was fired in retaliation for warning colleagues and supervisors by email that the facemasks distributed by the hospital were not as effective as N95 respirator masks and for subsequently showing up to work wearing her own N95 mask.

3/21/2020 – NJ.com – Newly passed state law A3848 protects New Jersey workers from being fired or demoted by their employers as a result of contracting COVID-19 and needing to take time off from work per the recommendation of a physician or other medical professional.

3/19/2020 – Reuters – New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal clarified that employers may not fire workers for coughing or exhibiting other potential symptoms of COVID-19, whether or not they are diagnosed with the infectious disease, under the state’s anti-discrimination law.

3/13/2020 – Becker’s Hospital Review – The CEO of an Alaska hospital discourages an “ill-timed” planned strike of nurses, technicians, assistants, and other healthcare personnel during the COVID-19 outbreak, but workers allege that the only reason for the strike is the hospital’s equally ill-timed decision to cut sick leave benefits.