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Unlawful Employment Retaliation Regarding COVID-19 Concerns


The outbreak of COVID-19, commonly called coronavirus, has thrown a wrench into the economy – and society in general – in California and throughout the U.S. and most of the world. As employees try to protect themselves and their families, they might face different forms of retaliation by their employers. California law prohibits retaliation for exercising legal rights under employment laws, and this does not change due to the pandemic.

The State of California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) answered some frequently asked questions about employment in light of COVID-19, including an employee’s right to take paid sick time or apply for unemployment benefits if their hours were reduced or their employer shut down indefinitely. Paid sick leave can be used for preventative care of you or your family, even if you are not currently sick. Unemployment can be approved even if you are planning to go back to your previous job and are not looking for other work.

Unfortunately, some employers might not act in line with the law, and they might retaliate against employees. The office of the Labor Commissioner works to enforce numerous laws that prohibit unlawful retaliation, which includes retaliation for using paid sick leave or other paid or unpaid leave to which employees are entitled. Retaliation can involve any adverse employment action, including:

  • Termination
  • Demotion
  • Immigration-related threats
  • Reduction of hours (not related to business closures)
  • Assignment to undesirable tasks

If you believe that your employer retaliated against you for any reason – whether related to COVID-19 or not – you should speak with an attorney who can hold your employer accountable.

Contact an Employment Lawyer in California for Assistance

The California employment law attorneys at Ratner Molineaux, LLP, are prepared to handle unique and unprecedented cases as they arise during the coronavirus crisis. Please do not hesitate to reach out with concerns about your employment rights.

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