To say the California workplace is significantly impacted by the coronavirus (Covid-19) is an understatement.   This is a critical time for all California employees to understand their rights in the workplace and to know where to turn if those rights are violated.

Employee rights in California are mandated by Federal and State guidelines both of which are quickly accessed via Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Here are some FAQs and resources to help you navigate any concerns or specific situations that may arise at work:

Can my employer ask me if I am sick?

Because we are in a pandemic, the law allows employers to ask employees about medical information if it is to protect other employees from infection. 

Can my employer require me to take my temperature at work?

Yes. Because we are in a pandemic, employers can request information from employees about symptoms, and this includes taking your temperature at work, and requiring you to stay home if you are sick.

Do I have to tell my employer about my medical condition(s)?  For example, do I have to tell them if I have asthma, COPD, cancer?

Employers may not ask an employee who is asymptomatic of Covid-19 if they have any medical conditions that might make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus. 

Asymptomatic is defined as not displaying symptoms of an illness.  For example, the symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath, and if you are not displaying those symptoms, your employer may not ask you about any medical condition that may make you vulnerable to Covid-19.

Employers may, and should, inform employees about the risks of or from infection, and in doing so, may encourage employees to come forward with personal medical information, but that is entirely up to the employee whether to do so. 

Can my employer fire me because I disclose that I have a medical condition?
No.   

I brought my own mask to work, and my employer told me I couldn’t wear it.  What do I do?

You have the right to a safe workplace, as mandated by law.  Your employer is required to keep your workplace free of known health and safety hazards.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, that includes providing and enforcing the wearing of masks and gloves, and maintaining social distancing while working. 

I am concerned about safety conditions at my job, but I’m afraid if I speak up, I will lose my job.  My employer told us not to talk to the public or to the media.  What are my rights?

If you are concerned about safety in your workplace, you have the right to speak up without fear of retaliationThis is commonly known as “whistleblower protection.”

 Can I be fired because I get sick?

Your employer is prohibited from firing you just because you are sick.  However, all employees (sick and healthy) can be laid off or furloughed as this economy continues to slow down. 

Are you concerned about your rights as an employee or do you feel your rights have been violated by your employer? 

Contact us at Liberty Law.  We are here to answer your questions, and help you understand what you can do to protect you and your job during this extraordinary time.

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