We have entered the second year of the global pandemic, and while many employers have taken precautions to protect their employees, there are some businesses that refuse to change.
“Masks send the wrong message to our clients,” is a sentiment that played out to terrible results in the cruise line industry, where vessel after vessel continued traveling with thousands of people on board even as the pandemic grew. An estimated 30 million passengers are transported on approximately 300 cruise ships worldwide each year. Cruise ships bring individuals from diverse backgrounds into close proximity with each other for many consecutive days. Not wanting to send the wrong message to passengers, cruise lines placed few restrictions on excursions, passenger interactions, meals, and entertainment. Worse, crew members below deck were packed together in impossibly tight living and working conditions, breathing stale air with little to no precautions taken to prevent the spread of the virus and certainly no ability to leave the ship if they got sick.
If you’ve just returned from a cruise it is very possible that you could have been exposed to the virus without knowing it, despite having taken precautions yourself.
Discrimination lawyer James Urbanic says, “employees of small businesses are finding themselves in a somewhat similar situation. Small to mid-sized establishments, wary of change, are often resistant to mask and/or vaccine mandates.”
These smaller businesses feel, “We’re all family.” “We don’t like to tell our employees what to do.” This sentiment, while well-intended, forces employees to either protect their wallet or protect their health. Many employees want to go back to work, but only if the environment is safe. Some care for elderly family members and can’t afford to bring home a virus that could have serious consequences.
According to the CDC, the incubation period for coronavirus is 2 to 14 days from the time of exposure. People may be contagious for over ten days –often up to twenty days. Restaurants, offices, call centers, and retail establishments all run the risk of repeatedly exposing their employees to infected individuals.
Were you fired for complaining about risks of contracting Covid-19 at your workplace? Whether or not the termination blindsides you or you come down with Covid-19 after a cruise or being terminated, it’s important to remember that even during this trying pandemic you have rights – and that an experienced wrongful termination lawyer can help you determine whether you’ve been the victim of wrongful exposure or termination.
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