COVID-19 And Employer Negligence: Why Employees Are Struggling

Author
Amanda Turner
May 19, 2021

While the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived, many people in the United States are still struggling to overcome difficult circumstances created by the events of 2020 and 2021. Illness, death in the family, and low employment/unemployment have all taken a toll on many Americans. 

Many employees in America are fighting to hold their employers accountable for negligent actions taken during the pandemic. Some employees allege that employers failed to provide them with personal protective equipment, safe working conditions, and other appropriate protections from the coronavirus — all in the name of making a profit.

Low Wages And Labor Violations

It’s no secret — in the United States, jobs that pay lower wages tend to offer less-than-ideal working conditions. During the COVID-19 crisis, many employees in low-wage jobs found that their working conditions became even worse than normal. 

Some warehouse workers have stated concern that it’s physically impossible to follow social distancing guidelines at their facilities. Others have stated that their workplace took no precautions to protect employees after another employee at their facility tested positive for the virus. Some workers have also stated that they’re told to stay home — without pay — if they bring up concerns with how their company is failing to manage risks. 

covid-employer negligence

University of Pennsylvania economics professor Ioana Marinescu believes that poor working conditions for low-wage jobs are not going to change any time soon. 

According to Marinescu, high unemployment levels allow employers to provide poor working conditions. When unemployment levels are high, employers do not have to offer welcoming, comfortable work environments in order to attract employees. 

Some workers have chosen to take part in the gig economy in order to create their own working conditions. Services like Instacart, Uber, and Lyft all allow workers to choose when they’re going to work. While working for these services can be convenient, they often work using secret algorithms that determine how often employees can work — and how much they get paid. Keeping this information secret can result in an even more stressful environment for a gig-economy employee who relies on uncertain work for a paycheck. 

 

Failure To Follow Recommended Precautions

Many employers have failed to provide proper precautions for employees. Retail giants Wal-Mart, CVS, Lowe's, and Walgreens declared they wouldn’t force employees to enforce statewide mask mandates for customers. Upper-level management stated that they chose this policy in an effort to decrease the likelihood of confrontation between policy-following employees and angry customers. 

By failing to follow statewide mandates, some employees feel that their employers have put them at risk for contracting COVID-19. 

While employers state that they don’t want to enforce mask mandates, some economics experts point out that they’re well within their rights to do so. Temple law professor Scott Burris stated, “If you own a business, you can prescribe reasonable rules for your employees… and if you have a business open to the public, you can have non-discriminatory conditions for entry. ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service’ is the same thing as no mask.” 

 

Failure To Provide Personal Protective Equipment

One of the most well-known failures of employers to protect employees during the COVID-19 crisis occurred within healthcare systems. 

In November of 2020 — more than six months after the onset of the pandemic — fewer than 20% of nurses reported universal availability of personal protective equipment at work. More than 80% of nurses reported the re-use of personal protective equipment that was only designed to be used once. 

covid working

In addition to physical health concerns, more than half of healthcare professionals report that their mental health has suffered as a result of the coronavirus. Some workers state that their employer’s failure to follow proper safety protocols is the main source of their mental anguish.

Can Employees Sue Employers For COVID-19 Negligence?

Many employees are working to sue their employers for damages, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other consequences of employer negligence during the COVID-19 pandemic. You deserve to feel safe at work, especially if you're working on the front lines to provide services during these uncertain times. If you believe that your employer has failed to do their part to keep you safe at work, or to provide proper working conditions during the pandemic, you may have a case. 

Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation — we’re here to help you learn more about your rights and how they apply to this situation.

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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