Employee Rights for COVID-19 in Texas
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many workers in the state of Texas may wonder about their legal protections while on the job. Whether you are an essential worker or not, you have a number of rights that apply to your safety and well-being during the pandemic. If you live in the Allen, Plano, or Frisco, TX, areas, employment attorney Dan A. Atkerson can help you.
Here, we’d like to go over some Texas employee rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. These workplace laws can help you and your loved ones stay safe as we head into the second year of this global health crisis.
Workplace Safety during the Pandemic
All workers are entitled to a safe working environment. That means the ability to be masked and protected while on the job, as well as requirements for customers and individuals on the premises to wear a mask based on the statewide mask mandate.
If you are immunocompromised or have a household member who is immunocompromised, your employer should be able to make reasonable accommodations to help reduce COVID-19 risk. This could mean the ability to work remotely, a change in work duties, or other reasonable means of preventing a medical emergency.
Workers should not feel discriminated against on the job for following mask and safety protocols. Any type of harassment or hostility on the job should not be tolerated.
Unpaid Leave Due to Personal Illness or Family Illness
If an employee or one of the employee’s family members requires treatment for COVID-19, they should be permitted unpaid leave to address the medical emergency.
On-time Payments and Paychecks
Even though the pandemic has affected business, employees are still entitled to on-time payment. In addition, employees who are laid off or let go are entitled to receive their final paycheck within six calendar days of discharge.
Protections from Workplace Retaliation
Many employees have spoken out about poor working conditions or reported workplace safety issues during the pandemic. If they do, they should not be subject to employer retaliation for their actions. Workers are protected for whistleblowing and reporting work safety violations.
Do I Get Paid Sick Leave for Issues Linked to COVID-19?
At the moment if you are a private-sector employee, the answer is no. However, that may change depending on how Congress and the state of Texas approach the issue of paid leave in 2021.
Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which took effect from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. The FFCRA included the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) to provide paid leave for COVID-19 related illness and emergencies, as well as the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) to provide paid leave for parents dealing with school closures and the lack of childcare providers. As of this writing, there is no expansion of the FFCRA or the EPSLA and EFMLEA provisions.
While Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio have passed paid leave laws for their respective cities, the state of Texas continues to debate the constitutionality of these statutes. Expect these discussions to continue as workers face the challenges associated with the ongoing pandemic this year.
What Should I Do If My Rights Were Violated?
If you feel that you have been mistreated at work due to COVID-19 issues, or feel that your workplace is not fostering a safe environment that considers your health needs, it’s crucial to speak with an employment law attorney. They can provide insight into your case and what the next steps should be for legal action.
Contact Our Law Firm
If you feel that your rights as a worker were violated during the pandemic, we can offer legal counsel and representation. To learn more about potential legal options, we encourage you to contact a trusted employment law attorney online or call our law firm at (214) 383-3606.