Fired due to COVID? Your termination won’t be authorized

If you have been fired from your job for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, your termination may be unlawful. Even if you have been a freelance worker, there are dismissal restrictions.

For example, it is not legal to quit someone for raising safety concerns, taking medical leave, or a state or local lockdown / stay at home order.

Unlawful termination is a form of retaliation and is against the law. If you believe your dismissal was retaliatory, you can sue your employer.

What is wrongful termination?

Unlawful termination occurs when an employer fires someone for illegal reasons. For example, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for filing an employee compensation claim or exercising their right to file a report with Human Resources.

Another form of unlawful termination is constructive discharge. According to, a constructive layoff is when you quit because of circumstances where no reasonable person would continue to work.

To prove constructive discharge, you have to convince 9 out of 12 jurors that no reasonable person would continue to work under these conditions. For example, if you quit because your formal complaints of sexual harassment did not stop your coworker’s behavior, quitting is likely to be viewed as a constructive dismissal.

How does COVID-19 affect an unlawful termination?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of illegal dismissals to provide better protection for workers. For example, employees are entitled to paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to care for a family member who has COVID-19.

This paid sick leave also applies to parents who have to look after a child at home after school due to the coronavirus.

The pandemic has also expanded the list of protected employee actions. For example, employees cannot be fired for raising concerns about the virus. If an employee tells their boss that they are concerned about the lack of social distancing and protective equipment, it is not a fire-proof violation.

On the other hand, if an employer is not generating enough business to warrant payroll, they can legally terminate their employees at their own discretion.

How COVID-19 Affected Wage Cuts

The coronavirus pandemic has created some interesting payroll complications. For hourly employees, you won’t see much of an impact. Hourly employees are paid for the hours worked, and if their hours are reduced due to closings, it is perfectly legal.

Released employees, on the other hand, must receive their full salary for each working week, regardless of their working hours – even if they do not meet a minimum. For example, a released (salaried) worker can work 10 hours that week, but his employer is obliged to pay him for the whole week.

Since the overtime regulation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was changed in January 2020, more and more employers are converting their employees from employees on an hourly basis. This change is legal, but employers need to be careful about how they reclassify workers. The new FLSA rule raised the tax-exempt minimum salary from $ 23,600 to $ 35,568.

Typically, this change would lead some employers to move higher paid workers from hourly to salaried workers because they would not have to pay them overtime.

However, as part of the new coronavirus protection, employers are converting their employees from salary to hourly wages. Due to downtime and reduced capacity requirements, many companies cannot afford to keep their employees if they don’t work hard.

This creates the potential for workers to be made redundant because employers do not want to pay them their full salary. While it’s not inherently illegal to fire an employee for not doing their job, when it comes to COVID-19, the water gets cloudy.

Have you been fired because of COVID-19?

If you believe that your termination or demotion was unlawful, you must seek legal advice immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for wrongful termination.

If you win your wrongful termination lawsuit, you can be awarded several types of damages, including lost wages and benefits, emotional stress, and punitive damages. All of this damage can add up quickly, especially if your case is on trial. Jurors often award high punitive damages claims when an employer has obviously maliciously broken the law.

Although you will likely win your case, there is a precautionary measure even if it is settled out of court. It is important to have an attorney when pursuing an improper dismissal lawsuit. Don’t try to represent yourself. Legal proceedings are confusing and you are held to the same standards as experienced lawyers. Don’t risk losing your case by frustrating the judge – get a wrongful dismissal attorney to fight for you.

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