Can I Be Fired Because I Have COVID-19?
In any industry, being fired from a job is one of the worst things that can happen to someone. In some cases, it may be illegal for an employer to fire an employee because they have COVID-19. This article will explore what you need to know about COVID-19 and whether or not your company can legally terminate you if they find out you have it.
Is it legal for me to be fired if I have COVID-19?
It is never 100 percent guaranteed that you will not be terminated or demoted due to a medical condition. However, there are laws in place which state that companies cannot terminate an employee because they have a disability. Known as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this legislation makes sure employees with disabilities are given equal employment opportunities. It prohibits them from being judged on their conditions alone.
Therefore, if your company attempts to fire you based on testing positive for COVID-19, you may have the grounds needed to file a claim with the Department of Labor Disability Employment Section. In most cases, employers cannot make any negative decision about hiring you or firing you for this reason alone.
However, you should be aware that the ADA does not protect every disability out there. To qualify for protection against termination or demotion, the condition must limit your major life activities and substantially affect employment. While COVID-19 is designed to do exactly this by rendering most infected individuals physically incapable of working, it may still be up for debate if the condition actually restricts a person’s ability to work effectively.
As mentioned before, an employer cannot discriminate against you based on your medical conditions alone. However, just because they can’t discriminate doesn’t mean they can’t ask about any conditions during the hiring process. The best time to talk with someone at your company about your COVID-19 is during the interview. If they ask about your health history, you should be completely transparent and let them know you have this condition. You may even want to offer up your doctor’s contact information so that the company can speak with someone who has firsthand knowledge of your condition.
It would be best if you also considered talking with a disability attorney before going to an interview so they can prepare you for these types of questions. Not only does this protect you against discriminatory hiring practices, but it gives you someone to turn to if things do not work out in your favor after discussing COVID-19 with the employer.
As far as employment discrimination goes, nothing is certain, but there are some things employers can’t do to you. They cannot fire you for having the condition, force you to take a medical leave of absence, demote you, or do anything else that negatively impacts your employment situation. If this is done despite the ADA laws protecting people with disabilities and COVID-19, it may be possible to file a claim.
However, there are certain situations where employees can be let go because of COVID-19. Companies may not want someone who has no chance at performing their required tasks, and certain companies will not hire anyone who has a contagious disease such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C. In those cases, termination is perfectly legal under ADA laws since those conditions prevent employees from working safely and effectively.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was created to help people with disabilities find equal opportunities in the workforce. That being said, this act also gives employers the power to push individuals aside if they believe their condition is preventing employees from working effectively. If you are having trouble keeping up with your workload due to COVID-19, it may be possible for your employer to terminate you based on poor performance. However, this would not apply if you were capable of performing all job tasks but simply could no longer handle the stress caused by the illness.
If you think you have been demoted or terminated unfairly due to COVID-19, talk to an attorney about filing a claim against your company. While nothing can protect against every instance of employment discrimination, they may be able to help you in your case.
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