In New York State, COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with the total infection rate soaring to over 520,000. Though economies are reopening, New York workplaces are being forced to adjust to these tumultuous times to protect workers’ rights or to face the consequences of potential lawsuits.
Since the onset of the novel coronavirus, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been closely monitoring and investigating COVID-19 related complaints. As of October 22, OSHA had issued just under 150 COVID-related citations. With no specific standards in place to handle COVID-19 work mandates, OSHA has reported the following as the most commonly cited citations to date:
- Respiratory Protection: Employers have not created or properly conveyed written respiratory protection programs, including training, fittings of masks, or the use of respirators.
- PPE Requirements: Employers have not fully addressed the workplace hazards to determine to what extent personal protective equipment (PPE) needs to be used as well as failed to train employees on the proper use.
- Recordkeeping and Reporting: Cited employers have failed to properly record work-related COVID-19 illnesses and hospitalizations.
- General Duty Clause: Employers failed to provide a work environment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm” as required by OSHA.
Though many of the reported complaints were focused on industries that remained open during the height of the pandemic or experienced high potential for exposure, such as healthcare, retail, and manufacturing, it does not mean that other employees returning to the physical workplace cannot file claims if their rights have been violated.
Filing COVID-19 Complaints in New York State
In addition to the sick and family leave as well as disability benefits for New York employees impacted by the virus, Governor Andrew Cuomo has enacted other measures meant to protect New York employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can file an employee complaint in New York for any of the following reasons:
- Being forced to work at a business that is not allowed to legally operate
- Your employer is not taking proper safety and health precautions
- Your employer has failed to pay you wages owed for hours worked, earned sick pay, or paid time off
- Your employer has threatened or fired you for reasons related to COVID-19
- You qualify for COVID-19 paid sick leave and your employer refuses to provide it
- You are forced to work when you are sick
Remember, as an employee in New York State, you have legal rights that cannot be infringed upon due to COVID-19.
New York State Employee Rights Advocate During COVID-19: Brown Kwon & Lam
If you are an employee in New York, know that a global pandemic does not take away your rights and access to legal representation, even as infection numbers begin to decline. At Brown Kwon & Lam, we will evaluate your case and help you seek action against your employer if you have been a victim of an OSHA violation during the novel coronavirus.
If you are in need of legal counsel, contact the New York employee rights attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam today.