COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our state, our country, and our society. As the impacts linger and possibly increase, many employees deemed “essential” continue to put themselves at risk of exposure to the virus to fulfill societal needs. Many companies have gone to great lengths to ensure their employees remain safe during these trying times, but some continue to lag.
If you or someone close to you has been asked to work in a hazardous or dangerous work environment, especially during this pandemic, you may have the right to decline to do certain activities, or to even work at all. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn whenever possible, along with other reasonable precautions. Details about hazardous work conditions can be found at https://www.osha.gov/right-to-refuse.html.
A great example of legal action surrounding COVID-19 and workers comes from the Chicago, Illinois area. The family of a Wal-Mart employee, who passed away due to complications from COVID-19, is suing the company because his manager ignored his symptoms and failing to let coworkers know he may have contracted the virus. Furthermore, the suit also mentions a coworker by name who died from COVID-19 complications just 4 days later. The family filing suit claimed employees were forced to work without gloves or masks, and social distancing requirements did not exist. They also claim that a lack of guaranteed paid sick leave forced workers who would’ve otherwise stayed home to come into work.
In its statement regarding this matter, Wal-Mart said it was “heartbroken” over the deaths of its two employees and outlined actions it is taking to combat the disease. These actions include: limiting the amount of customers in its stores, updating its cleaning and sanitizing measures, and installing “sneeze guards” at its registers.
While we are living through mostly unprecedented times, important protections remain in place for our country’s essential workers. If you or someone you know believes they are unjustly being forced to work in dangerous conditions you should contact an attorney immediately. The staff of O’Connor Law continues to provide our 100% operational services and can be reached at 800-518-4LAW or at oconnorlaw.com. Let Our Family Fight For Your Family.