As the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep the country, many patients infected with COVID-19 will need emergency medical care. Hospitals are seeing not only coronavirus carriers, but other patients seeking treatment for different conditions, ailments, and injuries. Although the federal government may enact temporary measures to fight the pandemic, the law is clear; emergency rooms cannot turn away patients needing emergency care, and they cannot retaliate against whistleblowers working in those hospitals who speak up when that happens.
There is no shortage of heroes in California during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. They put themselves in harm's way every day to help others. Not only do healthcare workers put their own health at risk by doing their jobs, but they also increase the chances that they may expose their families and loved ones to the virus. Given these sacrifices, it isn't unreasonable for such workers to expect the safest possible environment for doing their critical work. In fact, California law demands it.
As the novel coronavirus spreads throughout the U.S., New York and many other states and cities have ordered non-essential businesses to close. However, what constitutes an "essential business" has shifted over the course of the pandemic, as has how the order will be enforced.
Few employees and executives have been spared the impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Whether because of illness to themselves or family members, childcare or school closures, or disruption in the workplace, it has been anything but business as usual for the majority of the workforce. However, individuals who find their ability to work impacted because of health concerns or caregiving responsibilities related to the coronavirus may have protections under the law.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act released $2 trillion into the economy in an effort to help stabilize families and businesses. Although it did not include new protections for employees who are retaliated against for reporting corporate wrongdoing, existing laws still protect some kinds of workplace whistleblowing.
To say that a large portion of the American workforce is facing uncertainty is an understatement. Reports of furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs attributed to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic make the news regularly. Many employees who are continuing to work in essential services are being required to go above and beyond their regular job responsibilities in almost unprecedented ways or to change their duties completely.
The coronavirus has hit multinational employees hard in every part of the world. U.S. expatriates living abroad and E.U. expats working in the U.S. have been subject to travel bans, embassy closures, shelter-in-place orders, widespread work shutdowns, mass terminations, and furloughs on both sides of the pond and around the globe. New laws and regulations in their home and host countries offer substantive benefits for employees who are forced to work remotely, caring for sick children and family members, or caring for themselves if struck with the COVID-19 virus. Figuring out if and how these laws apply can be daunting to expatriate workers at all levels. Having legal employment counsel involved in helping to make decisions as well as coordinating the expats' legal and financial needs with other professionals is key.