The current pandemic has brought us into unprecedented times and extreme challenges, including economically. Unprecedented times and money troubles often have the potential to stoke fear and division, and fear and division can often lead to discrimination. To fend off that risk, the State of New Jersey has passed new laws to protect workers from illegal workplace discrimination in this time of COVID-19. If you think you’ve been the recipient of illegal mistreatment at your job, be sure to reach to an experienced New Jersey employment attorney to find out more about your options.
One of the newest laws designed to curb discrimination and harassment is AB 3848, which Governor Murphy signed into law on March 20. That law, which took effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, limits what an employer can do to an employee who takes COVID-19-related leave from work. Specifically, the new law forbids employers from firing or refusing to reinstate employees that took leave at the recommendation of their health providers because they had (or potentially had) COVID-19.
Of course, as is true of many types of employment law disputes, one of the big keys to having a winning case is having followed all of the mandatory procedural steps and having documented proof that you did so. For example, say you experienced symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and became concerned about your health and the health of those around you. You went to a licensed New Jersey health professional and he/she recommended that you miss work for a period of time.
Once you receive that diagnosis and recommendation, it is imperative to make certain that you transmit that diagnosis and recommendation to your employer and to create documentation, either electronically or in hard copy, to demonstrate that you did what is required on your end. So, if you submitted your doctor’s information via email and your employer confirmed receipt via email, it is vital that you keep a copy (either on electronic media or on paper) of that entire chain of emails in the event that filing a legal claim becomes necessary. Should you succeed in court, the judge will order your employer to reinstate you to your previous position “reduction in seniority, status, employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.”
These protections will remain in place for as long as the Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declared by the governor remains in effect. The current declaration will expire on May 6, but that’s only because state law limits such declarations to maximum 30-day periods. It is entirely possible (if not likely) that the current emergency will last well beyond May 6.
Emergency situations may lead to drastic measures, both in the public sector and the private sector, but emergencies do not give employers the right to practice discrimination, including discrimination against employees who have (or may have had) COVID-19. The skilled New Jersey employment attorneys at Phillips & Associates are here help you if you’ve suffered from workplace discrimination in the Garden State. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation.