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When Can I File a Complaint About My Employer’s Violations of COVID-19 Regulations in New York?

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted New York State and New York City to pass numerous laws and regulations to protect the public, control the spread of the virus, and help responsibly reopen the economy and society. Though New York has progressed several phases into ReOpen NY, the uptick in cases and hospitalizations across the country raises the potential for another shutdown or shelter in place order. If this does occur, it’s important for New York employees to know their rights at work related to COVID-19 regulations. 

Current Regulations

There are currently a number of regulations in place related to the pandemic and workers who do not work remotely. Currently, and presumably if another shut down or roll-back of reopening measures occurs the measures are:

  • If you work for a business not currently permitted to operate in New York State, your employer cannot force you to go to the worksite.
  • Employers must take safety and health precautions, including providing a face covering for you, ensuring compliance with social distancing, frequent cleaning and disinfecting and providing hand washing and sanitization stations.
  • Your employer must make as many adjustments as possible to reduce workplace density and promote remote work. 

There is also a New York law in place that provides sick leave, paid family leave, and disability benefits for employees who are mandated or under precautionary orders to isolate or quarantine due to a positive COVID-19 test or exposure to COVID-19. This means:

  • Your employer can’t force you to work when sick.
  • If you qualify for paid sick leave under the pandemic laws, your employer must pay it.

Coronavirus Workplace Complaints

If your employer has committed any of these prohibited actions above, you may file a complaint with New York’s Department of Labor to report the behavior and begin investigating your allegations. Your employer is not permitted to retaliate or threaten you if you complain the business is not taking proper safety and health measure, or shouldn’t be open for business. In addition, you may complain when:

  • You’re being forced to work for a business permitted to operate, but:
    • You don’t perform an essential service
    • You’re being forced to report to a worksite when you could have worked from home
    • Your employer isn’t taking adequate health or safety precautions
    • You or a family member are part of a group particularly vulnerable to COVID-19
  • Your employer has threatened or fired you for COVID-19 related reasons
  • Your employer hasn’t paid you wages owed for paid time off, hours worked, or earned sick pay.

New York Employment Lawyer

It’s understandable that both employers and employees have faced difficulties as we settle into a new normal. However, the resurgence of the virus and possibility of another shutdown are good reasons for both groups to review their rights and responsibilities if another lockdown occurs. To make sure you understand the laws currently in place and avoid costly legal missteps in the future, contact the experienced employment lawyers at MOWK Law to learn more about your particular situation. We’re here to explain how the law applies, advise you on your options, and look out for your best interests. Contact us today with your questions to get started.