COVID-19 Employment Lawsuits on the Rise in California

With the number of vaccinations distributed beginning to increase and COVID-19 positivity rates decreasing statewide, employers may become too optimistic with easing COVID-19 guidelines and procedures. (See our article about vaccination eligibility here.)  In California, from January 1, 2020 to April 19, 2021, over 500 employment discrimination cases related to COVID-19 have been filed. Of those COVID-19 related employment cases filed in the courts, many cases center around: wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation, and unsafe workplace conditions. Relaxing workplace safety measures may lead to liability and invite litigation.

Recent litigation brought in the San Mateo County and San Francisco County Superior Courts alleges wrongful termination and unsafe workplace. The allegations include termination from employment due to Covid-19 that resulted from an unsafe workplace. Unsafe work conditions included workplaces where mask-wearing was not enforced as well as personal protective equipment and other supplies were not being adequately sanitized, and social distancing was not enforced.

While these lawsuits have yet to be decided, employers should be reminded and take caution in maintaining and enforcing COVID-19 procedures under California law, even in light of increased vaccinations of your employees. For assistance or more information regarding COVID-19 workplace practices, effective policies, and addressing employee vaccinations and the impact on your workplace, contact the employment attorneys at Chauvel & Glatt.

This material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute legal advice.  For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500.

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