The global pandemic has affected every aspect of life in America and across the world. While maintaining health and keeping safe is everybody’s primary focus, it is only natural to worry about how being out of work because of the virus will impact your job. Whether you are personally diagnosed with COVID-19, have a family member who requires care, or face the unfortunate situation of having an employer who wants you to come in to work despite state and federal guidance, you need to know your rights and where to turn if they are violated. Here are some FAQs to help you.
Q. I know that New Jersey has been hit hard by the coronavirus. How does the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJJLAD) apply to those affected by the virus?
NJLAD stands as one of the most progressive and proactive anti-discrimination laws in the country. In addition to protecting people against discrimination in housing and the public square, it is especially important when it comes to the workplace, where it protects people who are victimized based on their race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, and other protected characteristics. In the face of the epidemic, the law plays an especially important role, as the disease has been unfairly and incorrectly associated with race and national origin. Additionally, people who need to leave their job due to their own illness or the illness of a loved one have worried about how that might impact them.
What happens if I have to take time off for a reason pertaining to the virus?
In addition to the NJLAD, New Jersey has a Family Leave Act that protects both state and local government agency employees, but also anybody working for an organization with 30 or more employees. As long as you’ve worked for your employer for at least one year and have worked at least 1,000 hours in the last 12 months for any of the following reasons:
• To care for or bond with a child within one year of their birth or adoption
• To care for a family member with a serious health condition like COVID-19
The New Jersey Family Leave Act facilitates up to 12 weeks of leave for any two-year period and protects your job. The time can be taken consecutively or intermittently, which will be particularly helpful for those who find family members afflicted with this frightening virus. In the midst of nursing a family member back to health, New Jersey employees need not worry about retaliation or losing their job. Not only are they permitted to take the time, but the law entitles you to come back to the same role that you held before.
What happens to my job if I am diagnosed with Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a disease with potentially deadly ramifications. Your first concern should always be your health, and New Jersey law makes sure that you are able to place your focus where it should be rather than on your job security by allowing you to use up to 40 hours of accrued sick leave per year, whether you are a full time, part-time or temporary employee. The time can be used to take care of yourself or a loved one, and can also be tapped if your child’s school or daycare has been closed by a public official – which is the case in New Jersey and all around the country in response to the virus.
During a national and international health crisis, your job’s security should be the last thing you need to worry about. If you believe that you are being treated unfairly or illegally, we can help. Call us today to set up a time to discuss your situation.