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The COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2), or coronavirus, is a respiratory illness that can easily be transmitted from person to person. The coronavirus outbreak has spread rapidly through the United States, with 1,031,659 cases and 60,057 deaths reported by the end of April 2020. The COVID-19 outbreak has affected Americans nationwide in regards to their health and economic livelihood. While many Americans have lost their jobs, others have been forced to work amidst fears of workplace coronavirus exposure. Workers deserve protection from coronavirus at work, and employers are obligated to take measures to protect them from potential exposures. If you believe that you were exposed to coronavirus at work, you might be eligible for a workplace coronavirus exposure lawsuit.
According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the majority of American workers are likely to experience low to medium risks of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers must work to reduce transmission risk among employees, foster a healthy work environment, and maintain healthy business operations. Even with precautions in place, employees can be exposed to coronavirus at work. OSHA devised a classification chart for worker exposure to coronavirus. The classification divides job tasks into four levels of coronavirus exposure risk:
Jobs with high potential for exposure to coronavirus. This includes healthcare workers performing aerosol-generating procedures on known/potential COVID-19 patients, healthcare/laboratory workers who handle specimens from known/potential coronavirus patients, and morgue workers who perform autopsies on people who died from COVID-19.
Jobs with high potential for exposure to COVID-19. Includes healthcare support and delivery staff in contact with coronavirus patients, healthcare transportation workers moving COVID-19 patients, and mortuary workers who prepare bodies of people who died from coronavirus.
Jobs that require close/frequent contact (6 feet or less) with people who could, but are not known, to be infected by COVID-19. This includes workers in spaces with high community interaction such as schools, high-volume retailers, and work environments with a large density of people.
These are jobs that do not require contact with people suspected or known to be infected by COVID-19 nor frequent/close contact with the general public. These workers also have little to no contact with their coworkers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided interim guidelines and plans for businesses to limit and strop the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. The guidelines state that employers should actively encourage infected employees to stay home, separate employees with potential coronavirus symptoms, and educate employees on reducing the spread of COVID-19. The CDC also suggests that employers designate a workplace coronavirus coordinator to assess essential functions, establish social distancing practices and policies, and to implement flexible and supportive sick leave policies. The CDC guidelines state to maintain a healthy work environment by supporting hygiene and respiratory etiquette, performing routine cleaning and disinfecting, and if possible, increasing workplace ventilation and circulation rates. Employers are required to follow all existing OSHA workplace standards.
Federal and state laws and regulations are in place to protect workers from workplace coronavirus exposure. The OSHA General Duty Clause “requires employers to maintain a safe workplace free from hazards likely to cause death and harm.” The entailed “hazards” include infectious diseases such as the coronavirus, and employers and businesses are obligated by law to provide workers with adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) and supplies to stay safe while working.
OSHA rules also give employees the ability to raise reasonable concerns about workplace health and safety without fear of retaliation. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to accommodate employees with a covered condition (for example, a compromised immune system or respiratory disease). While these regulations should be protecting employees, many workers are concerned about their health and job security amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Employers must work to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace. If an employee is confirmed to have a coronavirus infection, your employer should inform you and your coworkers about possible COVID-19 exposure in the workplace while maintaining the infected employees’ confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If your employer is not following CDC and OSHA guidelines, or they are not ensuring worker safety, report the workplace violation. You might also be eligible for a workplace COVID-19 exposure lawsuit.
The federal OSHA General Duty Clause requires that employers protect employees from infectious diseases such as the coronavirus. This includes providing workers with the necessary personal protection equipment (PPE) and supplies to stay safe while working.
If your employer is not properly handling workplace coronavirus safety, report it to your local OSHA office.
If you have coronavirus symptoms (shortness of breath, fever, cough), contact your supervisor and stay home from work. If you believe you might have coronavirus or have COVID-19 symptoms, follow the CDC recommended steps. If you have emergency warning signs, get medical attention immediately. Do not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation have been met.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) developed an advisory list of workers considered essential to “ensure continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic security.” This includes workers in industries such as medical and healthcare, food and agriculture, defense, telecommunications, information technology systems, transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, law enforcement, public works, energy, and more. For the full list and the essential worker definition list, visit the CISA Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. While the CISA categorization is well developed, it is not comprehensive, and individual jurisdictions are able to further define which jobs are “essential.”
Essential workers are working during the coronavirus pandemic. Their employers are obligated by OSHA to provide necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation supplies, and to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. Individual state plans also require further action. Despite these requirements, some employers have failed to fully protect their essential employees. Essential workers nationwide have raised complaints and fears over:
OSHA and state regulations protect essential workers. Essential workers deserve protection, and employees are allowed to raise reasonable concerns about workplace health and safety without fear of retaliation. If you believe your employer failed to protect its workers from coronavirus exposure, you might be eligible for a coronavirus lawsuit.
The non-essential worker definition varies from state to state, and in many cases, is not clear. Generally, “non-essential workers” refers to a worker who is not required to work during an emergency. In congruence with CISA classification, non-essential workers are workers who do not work in these industries: medical and healthcare, food and agriculture, defense, telecommunications, information technology systems, transportation and logistics, water and wastewater, law enforcement, public works, and energy.
Many workers outside of these industries are deemed non-essential and should not be required to work in person during the pandemic (working from home is a safer alternative). Non-essential workers can be asked to continue working remotely in a safe location. Despite federal and state guidelines, many non-essential workers are working during the COVID-19 outbreak in unsafe work conditions. Non-essential workers have cited concerns/fears over:
Non-essential workers deserve protection as designated by OSHA and state regulations. They should be able to raise reasonable concerns about workplace health and safety without fear of retaliation, and they should not be forced to work in person during the coronavirus outbreak. If you believe your employer failed to protect its non-essential workers from coronavirus exposure, you might be eligible for a coronavirus lawsuit.
Yes. Companies can, and should, be held liable for failure to protect employees from coronavirus exposure at work. The OSHA General Duty Clause obligates employers to protect their workers from recognized hazards, and this includes illness from infectious diseases such as the coronavirus.
This clause obligates employers to provide workers with necessary personal protective equipment and the supplies necessary to work in a safe environment. Employers are also responsible for recording and reporting cases of coronavirus per the OSHA recordkeeping requirements. However, the extent of these obligations has become a point of contention. OSHA Covid-19 Workplace Guidelines vary in different industries, and many workers do not feel that they are being adequately protected. Contact TorHoerman Law for a free, zero-obligation consultation to learn more about your workplace protections and potential COVID-19 workplace exposure lawsuit.
The OSHA General Duty Clause protects workers from being forced to work in a workplace that is not free from recognized hazards. If you have reasonable concerns that you will be exposed to coronavirus at work, your employer should not be able to force you to work. OHSA also protects employees against retaliation for reasonable refusal to take on an unsafe work assignment. However, the definitions of “reasonable” concern and safety are not straightforward. If an employee provides proper equipment and workplace standards to avoid coronavirus work exposure, it is not considered reasonable to refuse work. A workplace coronavirus exposure legal expert can help you better define and understand what is considered reasonable.
Many essential and non-essential workers have had to continue working during the coronavirus crisis and risk contracting the illness. If a worker contracts the Covid-19 virus at work, his or her employer could be liable to cover workers’ compensation. The employee must be able to prove that the virus was contracted by “conditions peculiar to work” and that there were no other opportunities for exposure outside of work. This makes liability difficult to prove. If you believe you contracted coronavirus at work, a coronavirus exposure lawyer can work with you to see if it is possible to prove employer liability. Workers’ compensation is more likely to be covered if there is a large outbreak affecting multiple workers. You should reach out to a coronavirus exposure lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case before deciding whether to file a workplace coronavirus exposure lawsuit or a worker’s compensation lawsuit.
If a worker dies after contracting COVID-19 at work, or if he or she contracts coronavirus at work and passes it on to a family member who dies, the family could be eligible for a coronavirus wrongful death lawsuit to cover health care costs and other damages. For a wrongful death lawsuit, the employee or family must be able to prove company liability and that the employee contracted coronavirus at work. Contact a coronavirus exposure lawyer to learn if you or your family are eligible for a COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuit.
State and federal OSHA guidelines require that employers protect workers from hazards likely to cause death, serious physical harm, or injury — including infectious diseases such as the coronavirus. If you contracted COVID-19 at work and your employer did not provide adequate safety accommodations and equipment, you deserve legal representation and compensation. A coronavirus exposure lawyer can work with you to see if you are eligible for a workplace coronavirus exposure lawsuit. Coronavirus lawsuits are likely to reach state and federal courts.
First, familiarize yourself with the civil litigation process, so that you are aware of what to expect of your workplace coronavirus exposure lawsuit.
After you are familiar with the steps of a workplace coronavirus exposure lawsuit, you need to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you as your coronavirus exposure lawyer. You should be sure to find a lawyer who has experience in toxic exposure lawsuits, worker’s compensation law, or other personal injury lawsuits.
You should also mitigate injury by seeking proper medical treatment right away, removing yourself from your work environment (if you are able to), and quarantining yourself. Be sure to report your exposure to your employer, anyone that you have been in contact with, and the government agencies listed above.
You and your workplace coronavirus exposure lawyer will work to gather evidence to prove your claim. Be sure to retain any documentation, correspondence, or evidence that might be helpful to prove your claim. This can be extremely beneficial to the success of your workplace coronavirus exposure lawsuit.
Your workplace coronavirus expsosure lawsuit will likely be filed against your employer, who holds liability for your injuries. The sum of the costs that you incurred due to those injuries is your damages.
Your workplace coronavirus exposure lawyer will work to gain compensation to cover those damages that you incurred.
If you or a loved one contracted COVID-19 at work, you could be eligible for a workplace coronavirus exposure lawsuit. TorHoerman Law is filing lawsuits on behalf of workers whose employers did not ensure their safety during the coronavirus epidemic. Contact a coronavirus exposure lawyer at TorHoerman today. We offer free, zero-obligation case consultations for all potential clients. Our law firm’s services are based on contingency fees, so none of our clients pay until we have helped them receive compensation for their claims.
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“Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.
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Svaldi, Aldo. “Coronavirus Outbreak Raises Tricky Workplace Legal Questions.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 16 Mar. 2020, www.denverpost.com/2020/03/17/coronavirus-workplace-legal-questions-colorado/.
“What to Do If You Are Sick.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.
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