Amid an everchanging legal landscape resulting from the spread of COVID-19, employers must remain mindful of properly responding to and addressing complaints expressed by employees.
In response to the spread of COVID-19, many states have ordered non-essential businesses to close. States are encouraging employers to allow employees to work remotely wherever possible. Some employees with preexisting health conditions are expressing concern about continuing to work with coworkers.
States have begun encouraging employees to report to authorities employers that may violate new laws or the closure orders generally applicable to non-essential businesses. Yesterday, we reported on a New Jersey state hotline being overwhelmed by callers accusing businesses of not abiding by new rules. Ohio’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor have told the public: “If you believe a business is in violation of the rules, call your health department or local law enforcement.” https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/public-global-health/489327-ohio-governor-urges-public-to-call-law-enforcement.
This all sets the stage for potential protected activity that employers should recognize and be prepared to address consistent with standard procedures. Here are some key points to consider:
These are trying times that are presenting unprecedented challenges to businesses. Employers must adapt to the changes, but also remain vigilant in following reasonable standards for addressing conflicts between and complaints from employees.