COVID-19 and Employees’ Legal Protections
Many employees have lost their job due to COVID-19 and have questions about their legal rights. In the midst of this growing pandemic, your job security is rapidly changing. That is why it’s important to know what you can do if you are faced with an employment situation due to COVID-19. Employees have many legal protections under Federal and State laws related to COVID-19 issues and concerns. If you, a friend or family member has been fired or furloughed after making complaints about COVID-19 and the workplace, you may have legal claims. Our experienced San Antonio employment discrimination lawyers can help you.
What if I complain about an unsafe workplace because the employer does not have proper personal protective equipment [PPE] or cleaning procedures for COVID- 19 and I am fired or suspended because of my complaint?
If you feel like your health, or your co-workers' health is in immediate danger because of COVID-19, and your employer terminates you, suspends you or takes any other adverse action against you because you complain, contact your San Antonio employment discrimination lawyer at the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg as soon as possible to protect yourself and others.
What can I do if I need my case evaluated related to COVID-19?
- if you are fired, suspended, demoted or written up after raising safety concerns about the workplace [such as lack of personal protective equipment or lack of cleaning procedures], the employer may have violated the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s [OSHA] regulations that provide protection to employees from termination or retaliation if they report safety violations in the workplace. There are very short time limitations to report such violations [30 Days] to OSHA and failure to make a timely report would result in waiving your rights under OSHA.
- employees also have protections if you speak to co-workers about working conditions or refuse to work in unsafe working conditions due to COVID-19, or other safety issues, and bring these issues up to your employer. If you are fired, demoted, suspended or your pay is reduced because you make such complaints, you may also have legal protections under the National Labor Relations Act.
- your employer cannot fire you, discipline you, suspend you or threaten you because you speak to co-workers about safety issues at work, including discussions about safety concerns about COVID-19 in the workplace.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.
- you may contact the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg for a free case evaluation to help you assess whether or not you may have a legal claim.
- feel free to call, send us an email, or visit our website and complete a contact form. We will respond as soon as possible.
U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team- Gender Wage Discrimination
Since, 1963, when it comes to compensating men and women in the U.S., the law of the land has been “equal pay for equal work”. If only it were that simple.
On March 8, 2019, all 28 players on the women’s national soccer team initiated a proposed class and collective action in federal court against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Interestingly, the players chose to file suit on International Women’s Day, which is intended to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as to raise awareness of gender equality issues.
The players are alleging discrimination based on sex in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. These female athletes are being paid less than the men’s team, in some cases earning just 38 percent of pay per game even though the women’s team has generated more profits and revenue than the men’s soccer team, in addition to having won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. The complaint goes on to state that the female players spend more time practicing for and playing in matches, training in camps, traveling, and participating in media sessions than similarly situated male players – all while earning less pay.
The complaint cites the following, “A comparison of the WNT and MNT pay shows that if each team played 20 friendlies in a year and each team won all twenty friendlies, female WNT players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while similarly situated male MNT players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game against the various levels of competition they would face.” The direct comparisons of compensation between the men and women can be tricky though as each team has its own collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer, which among the major differences is pay structure. The men receive higher bonuses when they play for the U.S., but are paid only when they make the team, while the women receive guaranteed salaries supplemented by smaller match bonuses.”
Federal law prohibits discriminatory employment practices based on sex. Under the EPA, men and women in the same workplace must be given equal pay for equal work and Title VII also makes it unlawful to discriminate based on sex regarding pay and benefits.
As stated by Megan Rapinoe, midfielder/winger who plays for the National Women’s Soccer League, “We very much believe it is our responsibility, not only for our team and for future U.S. players, but for players around the world – and frankly women all around the world – to feel like they have an ally in standing up for themselves, and fighting for what they believe in, and fighting for what they deserve and for what they feel like they have earned.”
It’s Valentine’s day and I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss workplace romances. They happen often. Workplace romance can cause significant legal trouble. Co-worker relationships can create awkwardness among other team members. Relationships involving supervisors and subordinates often set up power differentials that can spark harassment and retaliation claims if the romance ends badly. Banning workplace relationships seldom work. The best course is to manage it. Stay informed of company policy and what those policies could mean to you.
A study in 2017 conducted by Vault.com suggested that 59 percent of respondents have engaged in some form of office romance. A similar study by CareerBuilder.com indicated that 72 percent of workers who have office relationships do not try to hide them—as compared with 46 percent five years earlier. Interestingly, millennials have a much more open mind about workplace romances. According to a study by SHRM, more than half of workplace romances are between employees in different departments, and nearly one-third are between workers of the same rank. Fewer than ten percent happen between a supervisor and direct subordinate or between employees of significantly different rank (though few in number, these types of office romances come with the greatest risk of legal liability.)
Even if workplace relationships are inevitable, they shouldn't take place between boss and subordinate, among coworkers who work directly together, or between an employee and a vendor. The potential for conflicts of interest in these relationships is just too great. Employees who embark on a relationship together should be aware of issues that may arise, including favoritism,discrimination and the chance of a hostile work environment.Instead of “anti-fraternization” or “no-dating” policies, policies that prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination – and encourage employees to come forward with complaints – are encouraged. This way, if an office romance does lead to harassment, the employer will have notice of the problem and be able to take action.
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!