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Can I Be Fired for Refusing to Work Due to COVID Fears?

April 8, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a massive economic toll on national and global markets, unemployment has become a substantial concern not only in the US but all over the globe. Wrongful termination of employees has been a serious problem in the past year. What are the rights of employees in a situation like this? Can your employer sue you if you refuse to work due to COVID fears? Let’s obtain the answer in light of the employment law.

Termination for Refusing to Work Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

The stress and fear surrounding the COVID-19 crisis have resulted in certain dangerous behaviors, such as the mistreatment of Asian-Americans due to their perceived connection with the pandemic. Some employers retaliated against employees who raised concerns regarding workplace safety with respect to the coronavirus. Others even went on to fire employees for complying with the stay-at-home orders.

Thanks to the law, employees are legally protected against all such harassment and discrimination issues they face at work. If the virus situation in your city is serious, the authorities will most certainly have strict lockdown measures, including the shelter-in-place order. In this situation, if you refuse to turn up to work to comply with the government directive, your employer can’t legally terminate you. If you’ve experienced anything like this, go ahead and file a wrongful termination claim at your earliest.

Even if there’s no stay-at-home order, you still have the right to refuse to work in the following conditions:

  • You strongly feel that existing conditions at your workplace pose an ‘imminent danger’ that can immediately cause severe physical harm or death, and most will individuals agree with you.

  • You reported the health hazard to your employer.

  • Your employer failed to address the issue.

  • The urgency of the situation makes it impossible to seek an inspection from OSHA.

If, however, the disease is not highly prevalent in your region and workplace, and no shelter-in-place order is implemented, you can’t simply refuse to work. Your employer is certainly responsible for providing a perfectly safe work environment with proper social distancing measures. You will be required to attend work but have full authority to file a lawsuit against your employer if you believe that proper COVID-19-safety measures aren’t in place.

Now that you know your rights against wrongful termination, it’s time to find a reliable employment lawyer to represent you in court. If you’re located in Schaumburg, IL, Michael Smith is the right employment lawyer for you! He has been protecting employees in Illinois for 30 years. Get in touch for a free initial consultation.