NEWS & RESOURCES

Month: April 2020

Protecting Ohio workers and Ohio Employers in the time of the Coronavirus

A new article from reuters discussing how the US Chamber of Commerce is asking Congress to protect companies from lawsuits related to the coronavirus:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-liability/corporate-america-seeks-legal-protection-for-when-coronavirus-lockdowns-lift-idUSKCN223179

Already it looks like nurses are filing lawsuits for lack of PPEs:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/21/nurse-protection-coronavirus/

You have the lawsuits in Chicago regarding the lawsuits filed by two Walmart grocery store employees who died:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/least-4-grocery-store-workers-have-died-coronavirus-one-family-n1178371

 

I’ve talked at extensive length regarding the difficulties people may encounter filing a a workers comp claim due to coronavirus exposure in Ohio. I’m sympathetic to the employers perspective, should the employer be responsible if an employee gets sick from coronavirus. How can that employee prove that he/she got the coronvirus at work. But I’m also sympathetic to the employee’s position, that is if Ohio is opened too soon and not in a thoughtful and safe manner, employees may be putting their health at increased risk.

Again who is better situated to take on the economic hardship when an employee gets sick. Its hard to say. If its a small business, I suspect most businesses will be strongly to make ends meet, make payroll. Maybe bigger businesses are better situated, but the bigger the business the more potential sick folks.

Scary time. In the meantime it looks like the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act may provide some relief to employees who get sick due to the effects of COVID-19:

Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act

(Sec. 5102) This section requires employers to provide paid sick time to employees who are unable to work due to the effects of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019). Specifically, full-time employees are entitled to 80 hours of paid sick time, which is available immediately, for use if the employee

  • is subject to a governmental quarantine or isolation order,
  • has been advised by a health-care provider to self-quarantine,
  • is caring for an individual who is subject to governmental or self-quarantine,
  • is caring for the employee’s child because the child’s school or child-care provider is closed, or
  • is experiencing a substantially similar circumstance related to COVID-19 as specified by the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Labor.

Stay safe out there folks, Kip

What if I get coronavirus at work?

Coranvirus at Work

The question is, what happens if I get coronavirus at work? Do I have a workers comp claim? I’ve broken this down in a faq I posted here. This is definately new and uncharted territory. Traditionally the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation would consider flu and colds an occupational disease. The Ohio BWC has addressed whether covid-19 and coronavirus would be a compensable workers’ compensation claim. That is whether you would be able to receive monetary compensation and payment of your medical bills due to the coronavirus.

They put out an answer which raises more questions, you can read that faq here. They essentially break it down into two parts, whether your occupation is the type of job that has a greater risk or hazard of getting the coronavirus than the general public and how you contracted the disease. I think for most essential workers, you will be easily able to say that you pose a greater risk of getting the disease than the general public. Imagine you are a COTA ( Central Ohio Transit Authority) bus driver. You must interact with 100’s of folks each day. Any number of these folks may have the coronavirus.

Same can be said for a grocery worker, cashier, or stocker at Kroger, Meijers, Giant Eagle, Walmart, or Costco. Everyday 100’s of customers walk in and out of the grocery store or warehouse. These folks breath, they cough, they touch things. If you are swimming in that miasma on a daily basis the likelihood of contracting covid-19 and getting the coronavirus is significant. How about a picker at the Amazon warehouse in Etna, we know for a fact that folks are coming to work at Amazon with the coronavirus. At least 19 Amazon warehouses had one or more instances of cov-19.

Now clearly the frontline doctors or nurses face a very high risk of exposure to cov-19 and coronavirus.

Hard Question

So that’s the easy question. The hard question will be how you contracted the disease. Can you prove by a preponderance of the evidence that you contracted coronavirus at work rather than at home, picking up groceries, pumping up your gas, opening a package from Amazon. That will be the hard case. But we’ll see. If you contracted the coronavirus and you think you got it from work. File a claim. Again if it was the run of the mill flu or cold, then you would not have a claim. But the coronavirus is new and uncharted territory.

Already other states are recognizing the coronavirus as an occupational disease. ( see the the police officer in Chicago who’s death was ruled in the line of duty).

If you have any questions or concerns about whether you can file a work injury claim for your coronavirus, please give Malek & Malek a call or email. We’re here to help.

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