As of today May 4, 2020, there have been 1056 deaths and 20,500 cases due to the coronavirus in Ohio. Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton have published the new executive order, the Stay Safe Ohio Order. Construction companies, distributors, manufacturers, and offices are open as of today. Retail businesses may open on May 12. The order provides guidance on what employer’s are required to do. One of the key provisions is that an employer must require all employee’s wear a face mask except for the following conditions:
Reading that list, there is a lot of wiggle room for an employer to say why he/she is not requiring his/her employee’s to wear face masks. The other issue is where do you get face masks, and finally how do you force your employee’s to wear face masks. We’ve already seen videos and articles on youtube featuring confrontations between customers and grocery store employee’s about requirement’s to wear face masks. These have become violent, one security guard at a Family Dollar store was killed in Michigan when he refused to let a customer in without wearing a facemask.
I think this requirement will be hard to enforce. I think employers who do require that their employee’s wear facemasks will have a strong sword in that they can terminate an employee if he or she refuses to wear one in contravention of a workplace rule. That would be a legitimate basis for termination, and that employee would be forclosed from receiving unemployment. The employee could fireback claiming that he had a medical disability that prevented him from wearing a mask. That’s going to be a hard case.
People will be heading back to work. Since the coronavirus has not been completely eliminated in Ohio, folks may continue contracting covid-19 and becoming hospitalized. Its going to be really, really difficult to prove you contracted coronavirus at work at this time unless you are a prison worker, nurse, doctor, or other medical provider in a hospital setting, or work in a nursing home. Why because you could have contracted it anywhere. I discuss this further here.
The temporary lifting of the requirement for an updated Medco-14 has expired. For the end of March through April 30, 2020 you did not need an updated medco-14 certifying you temporary and totally disabled to receive temporary total disability compensation. Now you do. But now if you may receive an exam via telemedicine rather than physically visiting your doctor or physician of record’s office.
Hearings continue to be heard at the Industrial Commission by phone. Claimants are still not required to attend a hearing in person. I suspect that this change in circumstances will remain in effect for some time. The Industrial Commission hearing offices can be quite crowded at times. The hearing rooms themselves are fairly small and compact. Perfect incubator for the coronavirus.
Malek & Malek continues to remain fully open and operational. We are proud of the fact that we have not had to lay off or furlough ANY employees. At the present time we are confident we will not have to lay off or furlough any folks in the foreseeable future. For that reason we have been able to continue to aggressively and compassionately represent our clients. James Malek has been brilliant in leveraging technology to do our jobs more efficiently and more effectively.
We are here, we will always be here, for you, our clients! -Kip