Can you be fired during the COVID-19 pandemic?

fired during the COVID-19

As the pandemic continues to hinder society as we know it, many people aren’t just concerned about their health and safety but also concerned about losing their job.

For Americans, over 30 million have filed for unemployment during 2020. The job market has dwindled due to cost cuts and labor cuts to meet CDC guidelines. 

One of the thoughts on every employee’s mind right now is: will I keep my job? Many people have worried throughout the year about the security of their careers.

Could I be Fired for Missed Work From COVID?

Lots of people have had this concern. How will they be negatively impacted by the virus? If you need time off, you may have the right to take a leave under two federal laws:

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – this law gives individual employees the right to take up to 4 months of unpaid leave to recover from a severe illness or care for a sick family member. But keep in mind, this will not be paid leave.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires most small businesses with paid sick leave to workers who have been negatively impacted by COVID. There’s a limited amount of hours, but it can be from illness, taking care of a family member who’s sick, or if your child’s school has been shut down from COVID outbreaks.

Also, look into your state regulations. You might have more flexibility within your state rights.

Can I be Fired for Requesting Disability Assistance For COVID 

If you suffer from a medical condition that puts you at high risk while working, you may be eligible for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA would provide financial assistance with documentation of a medical health condition compromised by COVID-19.

Your employer must provide reasonable accommodations to help your situation or compensate you. If not, your employer could be liable for a discrimination lawsuit. It’s important to note that ADA is only tied to medical illnesses. You cannot apply if you’re at higher risk from an older age, that would not qualify under disability.

Can You Be Fired for Complaining About Unsafe Work Conditions with COVID?

If you do have to work and do not qualify for disability, you still have the right to a safe work environment. Early in the pandemic, many businesses did not provide PPE for their employees and forced employees to make the difficult decision to report. Many people were worried about repercussions if they said this negligence or potentially being fired. 

However, an employer cannot fire you for reported unsafe work conditions. Mostly since basics like face masks and hand sanitizer were necessary. You are protected by Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) from retaliation in the workplace, and therefore, you cannot be fired during COVID for reporting to your employer.

Lots of laws have been impacted by COVID. Many people are concerned about being fired during COVID and what that means for their lives and family. Hopefully, we’ve addressed a few reasons people could be fired during COVID and laws to protect themselves.

Article by Megan Thompson

Megan Thompson is a legal writer at Lawrina. Megan writes about different law practice areas, legal innovations, and shares her knowledge about her legal practice. As a graduate of the American University's Washington College of Law she is an expert of law in Lawrina's team and has a slight editing touch to all content that is published on the website.

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