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You Have Rights! What to Know If You’re an Essential Worker


Healthcare providers currently make up anywhere from 10 to 20% of confirmed coronavirus cases. Thousands of nurses, doctors, janitorial workers, and even some non-essential workers that were asked to come in despite the shutdown have been infected. You have rights as an essential worker. Everyone should be able to go to work without fear of getting sick – even amid a global pandemic.

Providers and other types of workers are starting to sue for monetary damages after being exposed to the virus. This may be due to a lack of personal protective equipment, poor safety standards, a lack of understanding of the virus, or forcing employees to come in even though they were sick. Essential workers are also suing for lack of overtime pay and paid family/sick leave, or for being fired after speaking out against subpar working conditions.

Learn more about your rights as an essential worker.

Are You Entitled to Damages?

The coronavirus is new territory for everyone, and employers, their workers, and the legal community are quickly starting to catch up. It’s been a hectic few months for essential workers. Amid all the confusion, some workers are being asked to forgo PPE and work overtime for little to no extra pay, while others are being sent home after getting sick without a paycheck.

You may be able to sue for the any of the following reasons:

  • Your employer did not provide personal protection equipment (PPE).
  • Your place of employment failed to implement adequate safety procedures.
  • You were fired for getting the coronavirus, displaying flu-like symptoms, or for having to take care of someone with the virus.
  • You were fired for speaking out against the lack of PPE or poor safety standards.
  • You did not receive appropriate compensation for overtime, disability benefits & paid family/sick leave, etc.

Many states have expanded their paid sick leave policies in the wake of the pandemic. Revisit your state’s policies to see if you are eligible for additional benefits. If you did not receive these additional benefits, talk to your employer.

There are stories of employers spreading misinformation to their employees regarding sick leave and overtime policies. If you are denied these benefits even though you believe you are eligible, you may be able to sue for damages.

Help is Standing By

Many lawyers and law firms around the country are shifting gears to represent essential workers who have been affected by the coronavirus. If you believe you are entitled to damages, contact a local employment lawyer in your area to see if you have a case.

New York continues to be one of the main epicenters of the pandemic. While the rate of transmission appears to be slowing and fewer patients are dying from the virus each day, many essential workers have been affected up and down the state. Thirty-two providers have died of COVID-19 in the state, but the real estimate is expected to be much higher. Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx has been one of the hardest-hit during the pandemic. The health system says that 924 of its workers have gotten sick.

New York also has some of the most generous paid family/sick leave policies in the country. These policies were expanded to support essential workers on the front lines, public safety officers, transit workers, and employees caring for those recovering from the virus.

Many out-of-state providers also traveled to the New York area to help during the height of the pandemic. If you worked in New York as an essential employee, you may be able to sue for damages if your employer did not do enough to protect you from the virus or they did not compensate you for paid family/sick leave or overtime.

Our friends at The Bongiorno Law Firm, believe that everyone has the right to earn a living without endangering their health and safety. Contact them today to see if you are eligible for monetary damages.

Fill out your details below and a member of the Bongiorno Law Firm will reach out to you.


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