Tara is a 42-year old mother of two and recently a grandmother. While she is in good health and appears fit, Tara has asthma.
Normally Tara works days cleaning the common areas and individual apartments after people move out and before the new residents move in. Her manager told her that she needed to continue working even though some of the residents were sick and could potentially have coronavirus. Tara does not believe she is an “essential” worker and feels she is putting herself at risk by coming to her job.
Who qualifies for paid leave?
Whether Tara or other employees can receive paid leave by refusing to come to work when they have an underlying health condition will be determined by any number of variables including the employment contract, any active collective bargaining agreements (if the employee is a member of a union, for example) or any state wage law contract the employee has with the employer.
Many state governors, recognizing the critical need for workers to be paid during the pandemic, have enacted immediate workers’ compensation for certain health-care related workers who contract coronavirus.
In Tara’s case, because she has an underlying health concern (asthma), she may qualify for paid sick leave. If her employer terminates her, as a non-essential worker, Tara may be able to file a retaliation claim.
The March 19, 2020 Stay at Home Order requires California non-essential workers to shelter in place. Workers who do not understand their rights and options are encouraged to speak to a California employment law attorney.