Exceptions to At-Will Employment: NYC Fast Food Workers Need Just Cause for Firing

Most employment in New York state is considered “at-will.” However, there are exceptions to this general principle of at-will employment. One notable example is New York City’s expansion of the Fair Workweek Law to require that fast food workers be fired only for “just cause.” 

At-Will Employment Generally

At-will employment means that employers can lay off employees for any reason (or no reason) without an explanation, unless the firing is a violation of the law, like any form of employment discrimination or retaliation. For instance, this could be considered a wrongful termination if you were sacked shortly after you voiced your concerns over workplace safety. 

Another area of exceptions to at-will employment in New York include situations where the employee has an employment contract which adjusts the employment at-will default rule. This can either be for individual employees like doctors, lawyers, executives, who have their own employment contracts, or for a group of employees, such as laborers like electricians or plumbers who have union contracts (collective bargaining agreements). 

Rationale for Expansion 

As you can see, there are very few exceptions to at-will employment. Most New Yorkers are at-will and don’t have much job security. Thus, the New York City law makers wanted to expand the pool of employees that aren’t at the mercy of at-will employment and changed the Fair Workweek Law to incorporate the requirement that fast food workers must be fired for “just cause.” 

Requirements of the New York Fair Workweek Law

Here are specific requirements of this law:

  • The covered employees are fast food workers who work for chains with 30 or more restaurants across the country.
  • Employers must provide an initial 30-day probation period.
  • Then, the employer can terminate the employee, reduce their work hours by 15%, or indefinitely suspend the employee onlyfor just cause.
  • Just cause definition: Employee is unable to satisfactory perform the job duties orthere is misconduct which is demonstrably and materially harmful to the employer’s business. 
  • Before discharge, the employer must provide 5 days-notice with the reason for the termination.

Just Cause Factors

The following factors are used to determine just cause:

  • Whether the employee knew or should’ve known about the employer’s policy used as a basis for discipline
  • Whether the employer adequately trained the employee
  • Whether the employer fairly, reasonably, and consistently used the policy to discipline the employee
  • Whether the employer investigated the inadequate performance or misconduct in a fair/objective way
  • Whether the employee violated a rule or policy which is the basis of the discipline

Get Legal Help with your New York Employment Issues

Although most employees have at-will employment, there are times when they be able to get relief from being fired. If you need to know more about the NYC Fair Workweek Law or believe you’ve suffered another wrongful termination, get in touch with an experienced employment law attorney. A MOWK Law employment attorney has the legal expertise to help you understand if you have a claim against your employer. Contact us soon to learn more. 

NY Employers are Prohibited from Caregiver Discrimination in the Workplace

The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to an increase in attention placed on the importance of the role of caregivers in our society. This reverence is reflected in New York City’s Human Rights Law, which now includes persons who qualify as “caregivers.” 

The New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) is a civil rights legislation that prohibits employment discrimination based on factors, including race, color, age, national origin, alienage/citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, and partnership status. This law offers far more extensive civil rights protection than the federal and the state government. Recently, the NYCHRL has been expanded to include caregivers as a protected class. 

Definitions Under the New York City Human Rights Law

The NYCHRL considers a caregiver as someone “who provides direct and ongoing care for a minor child or care recipient.” Under the law, “minor children” are people under 18 years of age who are the legal ward or biological, adopted, or foster child of the person providing the care. A “care recipient” is defined as someone with a disability who is a relative covered under this law or one who resides in the caregiver’s home and receives medical care or help with daily needs from the caregiver.    

The covered relatives include the following:

  • Children
  • Children of the caregiver’s spouse or domestic partner 
  • Spouses
  • Domestic partner
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Individuals with familial relationships defined by the rules of the NYC Commission on Human Rights

Discrimination is Prohibited Against Employees Providing Care in their Home

The Commission provides general and specific examples of employment discrimination based on caregiver status. For instance, an employer can violate this law with unfair treatment against an employee, such as refusing a promotion to an individual with a parent with dementia when they are otherwise qualified for the position.

Scope of Protection of State Law vs. NYC Law

The NYCHRL builds on protections found at the state level which offers protection against discrimination based on familial status, but the New York State law only protects parents. However, NYC’s law is broader and gives rights to individuals taking care of relatives in their home, including those married to or in a domestic partnership with a sick person. The rationale behind this is to make it harder for employers to force or pressure employees to put work issues ahead of family concerns. This is more in line with the modern view that a work/life balance is a priority.

Employers are prohibited from punishing employees who ask for flexibility to address their caregiving duties. And the law is designed to ensure that retaliation (in the form of denial of advancement or termination) doesn’t occur. An employee isn’t supposed to be excluded from being in the loop by being denied access to meetings or important discussions.  

Does Your Employer Discriminate Against Caregivers? Get Legal Help

Being a target of discrimination is very frustrating, especially when it’s your job at stake and you’re trying to care for another person. If you believe that your employer is taking adverse action against you because you have to help a relative, there is action you can take. They must comply with the law and you have the right to protect yourself against a violation. Talk to a MOWK New York employment attorney, who is well- versed in employment discrimination because they can help evaluate your case. Contact us right away to begin your next steps. 

How to File an Unpaid Wages Claim in New York

Any employee has the right to be compensated for every hour of work that they finished. As a New York employee, you are entitled to file a complaint if your employer doesn’t pay you for all or any portion of your earned wages. 

Examples of Wage Theft

Employers must disclose the basis for employee payment at the time of hiring and can’t take their earnings after they’ve been hired. When an employer does indeed take from their employee, it is considered wage theft– a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers can commit this in various ways; here are examples of common wage theft violations:

  • Minimum wage violations
  • Failing to pay overtime wages
  • Misclassifying employees as independent contractors
  • Requiring employees to work “off the clock” (before and/or after their regular shifts or during meal breaks)
  • Taking illegal deductions in pay
  • Misappropriating tips 

Employee Methods and Tactics 

Employers can wrongfully withhold their employees’ wages and cheat them out of overtime using various methods. At a lot of companies, this is one of the biggest expenses is employee compensation and also a common form of wage theft. Employers may have incentive to falsify employee time keeping records to show employees working less hours and withhold benefits in order to reduce costs and increase profits. Additionally, the FLSA requires New York employees to pay their employees for overtime. You can’t agree to waive overtime payments or sign away your rights to the money that you’re entitled to receive, despite an employer requesting you to do this.  

Statute of Limitations

Just because your employer is cheating you out of your wages, doesn’t automatically mean that you’re going to get your overtime compensation or your wages back. To get what you’re entitled to, you must take action within a reasonable amount of time. First, you should demand your wages directly from the employer and can the report the problem to your Human Resources Department. If this approach doesn’t adequately resolve the issue, or they fail to investigate your case, you can take things outside of the company and file a claim with the Department of Labor or sue your employer directly to recover your wages.

You must bring your claim within 2 years after you realize that your employer violated provisions of the FLSA. If it’s a “willful” violation, then you have 3 years to file against your employer. However, in New York, the equivalent labor laws allow you to file for up to 6 years after a violation. 

Recoverable Damages

In New York, an employee who files an unpaid wage claim can recover an additional sum of damages – liquidated damages. If your wage claim includes wage and hour violations, as well as violations of meal and rest breaks and overtime laws, you can collect the total amount of your unpaid wages, in addition to liquidated damages. 

Also, if you prevail, you would be entitled to recover the following:

  • Legal costs
  • Attorney fees
  • Interest on your unpaid wages

Get Legal Help Filing your Unpaid Wages Claim

Understanding how to file for unpaid wage claim in New York can be complex. If you’re not sure whether your potential claim is worth pursuing, you can talk it over with an experienced attorney. MOWK Law employment attorneys are familiar with the ins and outs of wage and hour violations and can advocate passionately on your behalf. Contact us for help with your next steps. 

Can Employers Require Workers to Get the Covid-19 Vaccine?

With the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine, it has become a little easier to picture a time when more people return to their workplace. But when that day inevitably comes, will it also come with the reassurance that co-workers have gotten vaccinated? More specifically, the issue is whether employers can require workers to get the Covid-19 vaccine? The general answer is “Yes.” However, this does come with some limitations. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces and educates people about employment issues, including providing guidance and instructions on how to handle workplace compliance with the pandemic issues. Two laws are relevant here: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA).

Religious Accommodations

Under Title VII, an employer must accommodate the sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance of an employee, unless it would cause an undue hardship on the business. Courts have held that an “undue hardship” is created by an accommodation that has more than a small cost or burden on the employer. 

The definition of religion is broadly defined to include religious beliefs and practices that may be unfamiliar to the employer. If an employee can’t get the vaccine because of their religion and a reasonable accommodation isn’t available, then the individual may be excluded from physically entering the worksite. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be fired. According to the EEOC, “employers will need to determine if any other rights apply under other federal or state authorities.”  

Disability Accommodations

Under the ADA, an employer can have a policy that includes a “requirement than an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.” If an employee doesn’t want a vaccine, the employer has to evaluate the risk that their refusal poses, especially if the employer is requiring that employees get vaccinated. 

The EEOC states that employers should evaluate four factors to determine whether there is a direct threat:

·       The duration of the risk

·       The nature and severity of the potential harm

·       The likelihood that the potential harm will occur

·       The imminence of the potential harm

Regarding these evaluations, the type of work would likely make a difference in determining whether a direct threat exists. For instance, if you’re a health care professional in contact with patients, being vaccinated could have a direct impact on you performing your job because you may not be able to do it safely without risk to other employees and patients. 

If you’re an office worker, you may be accommodated by using personal protective equipment, working remotely or working in a separate area. 

What Employers Can Do Instead of Forced Vaccinations

Although employers may have the ability to mandate vaccinations, they may be more likely to encourage or offer incentives to their employees rather than issue a requirement.

Talk to an Employment Law Attorney about Your Rights

If you’re concerned about your standing regarding vaccination by your employer, then you should seek help from a skilled attorney who can provide insight on this and other employment issues. Reach out to the experienced New York employment lawyers at MOWK Law. Contact us today to take the next steps.

Can Your Employer Terminate You Based on False Allegations?

People are fired for many reasons– including missing too much time from work, to messing up a deal, or failing to respond to client requests. However, if you’ve been fired because of a false allegation, it makes good sense that you would be upset. Anyone would be bothered by being dismissed for something that they didn’t do, especially if they think that the employer didn’t fully investigate the matter. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can sue your former employer for wrongful termination. Read on to learn more about false allegations in this context.

At-Will Employment

In New York, most employment is “at-will,” which means that your employer can let you go for almost any reason. There are exceptions to this rule. One very notable exception is that your employer can’t discriminate against you on the basis of a protected class, including age, race, religion, disability, national origin, or sex and they can’t retaliate against you for reporting discrimination or reporting unsafe working conditions. Unfortunately, terminating an employee based on a false allegation is not an exception at at-will employment.

Reasons for False Allegations in the Workplace

The sad reality is that false accusations are common happenings in almost any employment setting. Whether they are based on malicious co-workers with an axe to grind or the result of poor communication and misunderstandings, the results can be devastating. It can lead to a bad reputation and ultimately, your firing. 

For instance, if a colleague accuses you of misconduct, your employer can terminate you based on the allegation, even if it isn’t true. This is especially problematic because you may be targeted based on an illegal reason like age discrimination. Your employer wants to get rid of you due to your advancing age, but they make up a false accusation about you (that you stole from the company) to cover up their true intentions. 

False Allegations and Defamation

The issue is whether a false allegation is considered defamation. You’re a victim of defamation in the workplace when someone makes a false statement about you to a third party and that false statement damages your career or reputation. There are barriers to establishing a false accusation as defamation. 

First, you may know that the allegation is false, but can you prove it. Mere opinion isn’t considered defamation. Additionally, false statements may be privileged if they are made within the regular course of business. This means that if your supervisor’s or coworker’s false allegation against you was made within the company, it likely would not be considered defamation. 

Dealing with Wrongful Termination? Discuss with an Experienced New York Employment Attorney

False allegations are unfair especially if you’ve been fired because of it. If you think that you’ve been wrongfully terminated, then you will want to act in your best interests and plan out your options with an experienced employment law attorney. The skilled New York employment lawyers at MOWK Law can evaluate your case and will let you know how to proceed. Contact us for more information.  

Understanding NY’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

The New York State Sick Leave Law (NYSSL) was signed on April 3, 2020 and went into effect on September 30, 2020. Employees can immediately start accruing leave and can then start using the accrued leave beginning January 1, 2021. The new law is in addition to the New York State provisions that are already in effect providing emergency paid sick time due to Covid-19. Read on to learn about the specifics of this New York employment law. 

How Can You Use the Leave?

Under the NYSSL, an employee must be allowed time off from their employer if they make a verbal or written request and the leave is used for “sick leave” (dealing with illness or injury) or “safe leave” (if the employee or a family member is a victim of certain types of crime). Specifically, the leave can be used for the following:

  • The employee’s physical or mental illness/injury, or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for their physical or mental illness/injury
  • A covered family member’s physical or mental illness/injury, or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for their physical or mental illness/injury
  • Time-off related to the employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking, a sexual or family offense, or human trafficking.
  • Time-off related to an employee’s family member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, stalking, a sexual or family offense, or human trafficking.

How Much Leave Do You Get?

The number of sick days that you’re entitled to take will depend on the size of your employer. The coverage of employers is the following:

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of $1 million or less in the previous tax year must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave per calendar year.
  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of more than $1 million must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
  • Employers with between 5 and 99 employees, regardless of net income, must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year.
  • Employers with 100 or more employees must provide 56 hours of paid sick leave annually regardless of income.

Who is Eligible for the Leave?

The law covers all private-sector employees in New York State, regardless of industry, occupation, part-time status, and overtime exempt status. If you’re a federal, state, or local government employee, then you are not covered. However, employees of charter schools, private schools, and not-for-profit corporations are covered. 

Who is Considered a “Family Member?”

Under the NYSSL, a “family member” can be an employee’s child (biological, adopted, or foster child, a legal ward, or a child of an employee standing in loco parentis), spouse, domestic partner, parent (biological, foster, step, adoptive, legal guardian, or person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child, sibling, grandchild), or grandparent; and the child or parent of an employee’s spouse or domestic partner. 


Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who exercises their legal right to take leave.  An employee also has a right to reinstatement after they take the leave. If they aren’t restored to their position prior to the leave, it is considered retaliation by the employer. 

Speak to an Experienced New York Attorney about Sick Leave

If you’re interested in using leave under the NYSSL, just make sure that you understand that you can take leave beginning January 1, 2021. And if you need assistance with leave questions, you should talk to an employment attorney at MOWK Law who can help you navigate the complexity of New York’s labor and employment laws. Please contact us for help with your specific situation.  

What Medical Questions can an Employer ask During Covid-19?

With Covid-19 still being very active in New York and businesses struggling to normalize operations, it’s expected that employers would want to do everything they can to protect their employees from contracting the virus, and to help prevent the spread of it. This would include the inclination to recognize high risk employees. However, employers must be careful that in the zeal to prevent the spread of the virus that they don’t break employment anti-discrimination laws. While it’s permissible for employers to take measures to do this, there are certain things that they can’t ask employees and certain requirements that they can’t make. 

While New York employees can rely on state, and local laws that can help protect them from employment discrimination, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination employment laws, including The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. These laws, which prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities and forbid medical exams indeed apply during Covid, but the EEOC provides guidance on appropriate employment behavior during a pandemic, which may include some differences. 

Distinction Between an Applicant and an Employee

During recruitment, when an individual is an applicant without a conditional job offer, the organization usually can’t ask about disabilities or health; they can ask these things between the time of the offer and when the applicant begins work, as long as they are required for everyone in the same job category.

Questions that an Employer can ask the Employee

  • Symptoms: Employers who are covered under the ADA may ask their employees if they are experiencing any Covid-19 symptoms, such as a fever, sore throat, chills, and shortness of breath.   
  • Measuring Body Temperature: Because a fever is one of the signs of the coronavirus, employers are allowed to take an employee’s temperature. This isn’t farfetched at all, due to the community spread of Covid. Additionally, this is equivalent to customers of certain stores who have their temperatures taken before they are allowed access to shop. 
  • Diagnosis of Covid-19: Employers may ask all employees upon entering the workplace if they’ve been diagnosed or tested for the coronavirus because a positive test indicates that the individual has a present infection and may likely be able to spread it to others. 
  • Whether an employee has had contact with Covid: Employers are permitted to ask employees whether they had contact with anyone who has the virus or who has symptoms of the virus.  

Questions A New York Employer Cannot ask the Employee 

  • Requiring antibody testing to re-enter the workplace: An employer can’t ask an employee for an anti-body test to return to the worksite because the anti-body test is considered a medical exam under the ADA. 
  • Asking one particular person questions designed to determine if they have the virus: An employer can’t pull apart one employee for testing or screening without doing this for all employees, unless there is a reasonable belief by the employer (based on objective evidence) that the employee has Covid-19. 
  • Asking about family members’ Covid status: The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from asking employees medical questions about their relatives.

Discuss Employment Law Issues with an Experienced Attorney

With the pandemic changing some many things, it’s normal to be curious regarding what you must disclose to your employer. If you think that you’ve experienced discrimination in your workplace or that your employer has otherwise violated your rights, discuss your concerns with an experienced employment attorney at MOWK Law. Contact us today answer your questions and to take action.   

pregnant woman sitting holding her belly

Are You Still Entitled to Maternity Leave if You’re Working from Home?

While the trend of working from home (WFH) had already been on the rise in recent times, the coronavirus, forced many employees to turn to that alternative indefinitely. Check out MOWK Partner Brian Wagner discuss his change in office and wardrobe here.  

But even with New York “opening up” in attempts to restore its economy, some employers are continuing to have their employees work from home. One concern for employees with this new WFH reality is whether the benefits and policies that apply to them as in-office employees remain the same now that they’re not physically in the workplace. Specifically, pregnant women wonder whether they’re entitled to maternity leave when working from home. 

Remote Work Policy and Remote Work Agreements

Whether an employer foresees all or some of its employees working from home on a temporary or more permanent basis, a remote work policy or agreement provides clarity; it gives employees information on the procedures, expectations, rights, and responsibilities of a remote work assignment. If your company has a policy or you signed an agreement, then it could contain information about things like leave and accommodations and will determine your standing.

Underlying Eligibility

If you’re working remotely, it doesn’t mean that the usual employment laws don’t apply: Generally, you have the same rights that you had prior to working from home, and it is acceptable to apply all workplace policies to remote workers. If you were otherwise entitled to maternity leave, then that doesn’t change just because you’re a WFH employee. If your employer has a specific policy on parental leave, then the expectations about the leave are determined by this. 

Rights to Paid or Unpaid Time Off

Most parents rely on a mash-up of several laws to serve as their time for maternity leave, including the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees the right to a total of up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to take care of a family member or to take care of a serious health condition. New York has its own version of this federal law.  

Additionally, the pandemic has triggered legislation. If you’re an employee who isn’t able to work due to coronavirus sickness or quarantined and have coronavirus symptoms, you may be eligible for two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Eligible employees can also take up to 12 weeks of paid leave (at two thirds pay) to care for a child whose child-care provider or school is closed/unavailable due to coronavirus. These provisions expire on December 31, 2020. 

Multiple State Laws Issues

The state laws always apply to the location in which the employees work and reside. For instance, if you’re working remotely in New York and then want to move, it could affect your maternity leave options. First, some companies will not allow you to work from anywhere that you want. Also, not all states have their own FMLA laws like New York. 

New York Employment Lawyer

To understand your rights, it’s crucial to understand exactly which laws apply to you. Anytime you’re pregnant or about to become a new parent, you’re concerned about balancing your professional life with your personal life. However, in this unpredictable time of a pandemic, it’s even more stressful to work out these things. That is why you can turn to the New York employment lawyers at MOWK Law to help with any employer or employee parental leave questions. Contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.   

person holding employee rights sign

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.  

Can New York Employers Force an Employee to Either Remain at Home or Leave Their Workplace Over COVID-19 Concerns?

As New York moves into Phase 3 of its reopening, many individuals who have been working remotely are beginning to return to their places of employment in an effort to get the economy back on its feet. However, the return of employees to work has caused anxiety both for workers potentially facing COVID-19 exposure and for employers trying to understand what they are permitted to do in light of protecting themselves from liability and protecting other employees during the pandemic. One concern for employers centers around whether they are legally permitted to either require an employee to remain at home and away from their place or employment or else leave the workplace due to COVID-19 concerns. 

COVID-19 Exposure and Symptoms

The CDC guidelines currently recommend any employee displaying COVID-19 symptoms should not remain at work, so an employer may properly send a worker home if they begin to show any characteristics of infection. 

Employers may also require an employee to remain at home if someone they have been in close contact with is either COVID-19 positive or displaying symptoms of the virus. In this case, it’s proper to require the employee to quarantine at home for the CDC recommended:

  • 14 days after their last contact with the sick person, or
  • 14 days after someone sick in their household meets CDC guidelines for ending their period of home quarantine.

Travel Concerns

Employers may also properly require an employee to refrain from coming to work if they’ve travelled somewhere that public health officials recommend a quarantine upon return for a specific period of time. Employers may also ask an employee if they have recently returned from any such location.

Immunocompromised and Other Susceptible Employees

However, employers are prohibited from requiring that one of their employees either change job duties or come to work if they have a condition, quality, or disability identified by the CDC as putting them at an elevated risk for serious or life-threatening illness if they contract COVID-19. There would need to be an assessment to see if a reasonable accommodation – such as telework – could be made to mitigate the elevated risk to the employee, as well as an analysis of any direct threat to see if the employee’s health is endangered by their presence in the workplace.

New York Employment Lawyer

In these unprecedented times, employers and employees alike are struggling to understand their rights, obligations, and how to safely begin returning to a new normal. The fact the pandemic is a case of first impressions makes keeping up with new legal developments, executive orders, and regulations burdensome and confusing, but to avoid costly mistakes on both sides it’s critical to stay current and understand the rules. To make sure you stay on the right side of developing issues related to work, 

contact the experienced employment lawyers at MOWK Law to have your questions answered. We’re here to explain how the law applies to your situation and look out for your best interests. Contact us today to learn more.