FAQ: What are my job rights if I or someone in my family gets sick from COVID-19?

Posted on: June 9, 2020

FAQ: What are my job rights if I or someone in my family gets sick from COVID-19?

Please note:  This FAQ is current as of June 9, 2020.  The law can change quickly.  Check back later for new FAQs on this issue. This is information only, NOT legal advice.  If you need legal advice, talk to a lawyer.

If I get sick with COVID-19, or family does, can I leave my place of work or not go in?

Your employer should allow you to leave work or not return to work, to help keep the virus from spreading. Tell your employer why you are absent, so they know you are not quitting.  If possible, put it in writing, in a text, e-mail or fax. You may need proof of what you told them and when. If your job has policies, follow them as best you can.

Do I need to provide medical documentation proving COVID-19 infection?

For most jobs, there’s no law requiring it, and the Louisiana Department of Health urges employers to not require proof.  However, your job may have policies that require it.  Do your best to follow your job’s policies.  Keep copies of what you give your employer.

Can I still get paid by my employer?

It depends. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), you may be eligible for 2/3 – 100% paid leave for up to two weeks, depending on the type and size of your employer, whether it’s you or a family member who is sick, and what kind of job you have. Your employer can’t make you use other leave before getting this paid leave. The U.S. Department of Labor has details about this law here.

What if I’m not eligible for paid sick leave under FFCRA?

You may be eligible for unpaid leave under the FMLA or your employer’s own policies, or special laws that apply just to your employer.  To file a complaint against your employer for not giving you leave, contact the U.S. Department of Labor here or call 1-866-487-9243.

What if I’m fired because of COVID-19-related absence from work?

In Louisiana, the general law is that a job can be ended by either the employer or the employee, “at will.”  However, you may have a legal claim against (have a right to sue) your employer for firing you, if your employer violated a contract, or violated a federal, state, or local law that protected you, including Americans with Disabilities Act protections for people associated with someone with a disability.  You should consult a lawyer for advice.  All legal claims have time limits for action.  If you are able to work you can apply for unemployment benefits through the Louisiana Workforce Commission. You can apply for unemployment benefits online or by phone.  If you are asked the question “Are you filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus),” you can answer that “yes” even if your employer has made up a different reason.

Get legal help if you are denied, but act quickly to protect your rights.

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