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Coronavirus Termination & Harassment - April 2020

The new global pandemic, caused by the Covid-19 virus, has upended life as we know if for so many workers in a wide variety of industries. It no longer matters how good you were at your job or how stable you think your company is if it is one of the industries that is being asked to shut down or limit services. However, the Coronavirus does not change the fact that you cannot be discriminated against because of your Race, Religion, Nationality, Gender, Age, Pregnancy, Disability, Sexual Orientation or past Criminal Conviction. Covid-19 does not change the fact that you cannot be sexually harassed at work. Work from home rules have changed, but discrimination laws have not.

Unexpected Termination

During these unprecedented times, businesses are struggling to figure out the best ways to cope with decreased demand. While some are trying to leverage technology, allowing meals to be delivered and workers to telecommute, other businesses are simply not set up to allow these changes. While many businesses will continue to operate with additional cleaning and social distancing measures, many others will have to reduce staff and close their doors.

New York is an at will employment state, so businesses have the right to lay off workers at any time, for almost any reason. If “business is slow” (or even non-existent) an employer can lay-off workers or furlough employees until “the storm has passed”. However, employers cannot make termination or furlough decisions based on an employee’s race, nationality, religion, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or sexual harassment. Likewise, an employer cannot make termination or furlough decisions because an employee had complained about that type of discrimination.

Still Employed

Most importantly, even if you are now working from home, or not even working, because of the coronavirus, this does not erase the harassment, discrimination, or hostile work environment which you may have experienced before coronavirus was even news. Employees have rights. And the coronavirus has allowed many people to work from home and therefore reflect on how toxic and discriminatory the office environment actually was. Similarly, if you have been asked to go into the office while most other employees have been able to “work from home”, that can be a form or harassment or retaliation if you have been “singled out” based on your race, nationality, sexual harassment, etc. (or complaints about that type of harassment.)

Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, there has been an increase in harassment and retaliation against Asians and Chinese because this particular virus originated in China. Media coverage is often less than politically correct, and news overseas should not impact individuals here. However, reality can be different.

If you are now working at home, and you dread returning to work in 3-4 weeks, or even longer, because of discrimination at your workplace. We may be able to help.

One advantage of hiring Phillips & Associates is that we are a big firm that defends employees, so you won’t be out gunned by the big firm your old employer hires to defend themselves. For a free consultation, call the experienced New York discrimination and wrongful termination attorneys at Phillips & Associates today at (866) 530-4330.

At Phillips & Associates - We Level the Playing Field

Employees were, and for the most part still are, at a big disadvantage in the workplace. There is a dramatic power imbalance between employees and the companies for which they work. This power balance can intensify after experiencing sexual harassment or discrimination. The company/employer often hires a large law firm to represent it, while the employee may have just lost their job, have very little money and no one to help them understand their rights. At Phillips & Associates, we have the experience, staffing, and financial backing to keep the playing field level. People need to take a close look at the lawyer or law firm they want to hire and determine if that lawyer or firm has the funds, experience and the resources to properly litigate their case.

Phillips & Associates, one of the largest plaintiffs’ only employment law firms in New York. The firm handles cases involving sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace including pregnancy, race, disability, religion, gender, and sexual orientation and other protected traits. Phillips & Associates also handles other areas of harassment at work such as retaliation and wrongful termination. Most recently Phillips & Associates was selected as one of the "10 Best Employment & Labor Law Firms" in New York" by the American Institute of Legal Counsel.

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