COVID-19 concerns at work? Here's what you can do

Posted at 9:29 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 22:27:34-04

CAPE CORAL, FLA — Over the last few months at FOX 4, we've gotten quite a few emails, all talking about the same thing.

They're from people who are worried for their safety and say their employers aren't taking CDC guidelines seriously.

It's a trend we're also seeing at a federal level, with OSHA currently investigating more than 7,000 COVID-19 related complaints in workplaces across the country.

So, what should you do if you're in that situation?

We asked labor and employment law attorney, Jason Gunter, for some answers.

His first piece of advice? Communicate your concerns, with your boss, in writing before you decide not to show up to work.

"Employees don't want to come into work because their afraid and that's understandable. But right now, if an employee does that, even if they're legitimately afraid because of covid-19, they should know that they won't have any source of protection," said Gunter.

That's right, your boss can legally fire you, even if your concerns are valid.

As far as pandemic guidelines like masks and social distancing are concerned, Gunter says legally, your employer doesn't have to follow them.

"The CDC and OSHA, right now, those are just guidelines," he said.

But, he cautions those who don't follow those guidelines or properly disclose cases of COVID-19.

He adds that they can be held legally accountable for widespread outbreaks in the workplace.

"Industries will be held liable because they failed to disclose COVID-19 and people could have died or perhaps did die," said Gunter.

That being said, Gunter is confident that most employers will work with you, if you bring up concerns.

"I think if it's approached right, they want to do the right thing, you're just going to have to work through it," he said.

If you feel like you've followed all of these tips and you still feel unsafe at work, you can file a COVID-19 report with OSHA.