Top 4 Questions and Answers About Employment Issues Presented During LawChamps' May Meet-Up

Top 4 Questions and Answers About Employment Issues Presented During LawChamps' May Meet-Up

Cassidy Chansirik
 | 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, LawChamps' began hosting monthly virtual Legal Meet-Ups to help people get advice from real lawyers on pressing legal topics. The Meet-Ups are run in a panel format, mediated by LawChamps' Chief Legal Officer Jennifer McGlone who asks the panelists questions submitted by you, our LawChamps users. 

 

The first legal meet-up was held on May 8th and was attended by around 250 people across the United States. Seven LawChamps lawyers participated as panelists.

 

Bradley Bailyn, Eafon Cobb, Lou Russo, Patricia De Fonte, Neil Opdahl-Lopez, Michael Neumann, and Bowen Klosinski discussed topics ranging from landlord-tenant issues to unemployment.  

 

Mr. Eafaon Cobb was the panelist who answered questions on employment-related concerns. After graduating from the University of San Diego School of Law, Mr. Cobb now serves as a partner at Hewgill, Cobb and Lockard, where he specializes in employment law and labor law. After practicing for eight years, Mr. Cobb has taken great pride knowing that through his line of work, he can help individuals secure the workers’ rights they deserve.  

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately 48.7 million Americans are currently reporting to work each day. As a result, the Meet-Up focused on employment matters, such as hazard pay and reclaiming lost wages. Here are Mr. Cobb’s answers to the top four questions and answers about handling employment issues presented during LawChamps' May meet-up:

 

1. How do I know if I am an essential worker? Do I qualify for COVID-19 hazard pay? 

 

Although the federal government has issued guidelines for essential workers, it is up to each state to determine who is an essential worker. There is no enforcement mechanism behind the guidelines issued by the federal government. 

 

To see if you are an essential worker in your state, be sure to look into any public statement your governor has made on this topic. For example in California, Governor Gavin Newsom and the State Public Health Office released a list of essential critical infrastructure workers

 

If your employer tells you that you are an essential worker, but you feel that you are not, ask your employer to cite their source and where they found the information. It’s important that you do individual research because some employers may not be acting according to their state’s guidelines. 

 

2. My worksite has known cases of COVID-19, and I am still required to come into work. Since then, I have tested positive for COVID-19. How can I protect myself? Is there a way to extend my 14-day quarantine? 

 

In order to protect yourself, it’s best that you document any concerns you may have about general work safety or terms of work when you approach management. Emergency or non-emergency, you always have rights as a worker. 

 

Some ways you can document your concerns are by writing them down, or by approaching management with a co-worker who shares similar concerns. By working concertedly with your co-worker, you may be able to gain protections from the National Labor Relations Act

 

To extend your 14-day quarantine, you can look into the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is very specific because your employer has to have more than 50 people who all work within a 75-mile range. If this applies to you, you can raise the FMLA and tell your employer that you are still sick and have COVID-19, and as a result, you are requesting additional leave. 

 

3. Since I am on reduced hours due to COVID-19, is there a way for me to get lost wages back?

 

Currently, there is no way for you to reclaim your lost wages because of reduced hours due to COVID-19. Your employer is not legally required to pay for any wage losses due to the pandemic. The only way for you to get them back is by filing for unemployment. 

 

If you choose to file for state-level unemployment, each state will have different qualifications for eligibility. To find out more about these qualifications, contact your state’s unemployment insurance program.    

 

4. I have been furloughed for 1 week a month. Am I eligible to claim unemployment to cover lost wages? 

 

Yes, you are eligible. In order to claim unemployment to cover your lost wages, you would have to first, file for unemployment. Depending on your state, you may be eligible to receive state-level unemployment benefits, in addition to federal benefits. 

 

Each state has different procedures for covering lost wages because of a furlough. For example in New York, once you have filed for unemployment, you will have to continually certify for benefits each week you are unemployed due to COVID-19. 

 

If you are unsure of whether or not you have been furloughed or laid off, you can learn more about the difference here

 

If you would like to learn more, an excerpt of the transcript covering employment issues can be found here.

 

The next LawChamps Legal Meet-Up will be held via Zoom on June 26th. You can sign up to ask a question on our website or by calling us at 866-653-3017.

 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.

 
Cassidy Chansirik

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