COVID-19 Wrongful Termination New York

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have been laid off during the COVID-19 crisis, you may have felt it was unfair. But does that mean it qualifies as wrongful termination? In New York, as in most states, an employer can fire an employee “at-will”: for nearly any reason they see fit. That being said, there are exceptions, especially if an employee was retaliated against for refusing to perform — or refusing to keep quiet about — unlawful acts.

Importantly, an employer is not allowed to fire an employee for reporting hazardous work conditions, or for taking unpaid leave to care for themselves or their family when severely ill. In situations such as these, the dismissed employee should contact an attorney immediately to see if they can file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

If a worker was laid off for trying to keep their colleagues safe during the pandemic, or for tending to their health or the health of their loved ones while stricken with COVID-19, they could be owed compensation from their ex-employer.

Examples of Wrongful Termination in New York

Most layoffs in New York don’t actually break the law, even if they are unwarranted. But some employers violate either state laws or federal statutes when they dismiss their workers. Here are some examples that are particularly notable at the moment:

  • Violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA guarantees unpaid leave when one is caring for a seriously ill family member, or taking care of their own severe medical ailment. If an employee or their loved one comes down with a serious case of COVID-19, they may be entitled to unpaid time off until they’re better. If their employer fires them for taking this unpaid leave, the worker may be able to file a lawsuit.
  • Retaliation: When an employer fires a worker for refusing to perform unlawful activities (such as going into work when the governor has closed their office), for blowing the whistle on illegal or unethical conduct, or for filing a workers’ compensation claim, that’s retaliation. E.g., if your employer forced you and your peers to work in hazardous conditions without providing you with personal protective equipment (PPE), and you were fired for reporting them, you might have a lawsuit. Or if you contracted COVID-19 on the job, filed a workers’ compensation claim, and were then laid off, that could warrant legal action on your part.

Contact a COVID-19 Wrongful Termination Lawyer

If you think you were wrongfully dismissed, contact an experienced labor and employment attorney to find out if you’re owed money for lost wages, lost benefits, emotional distress, and other damages. At Morgan & Morgan, we file more employment-related lawsuits than any other law firm. Since 1988, we’ve recovered upwards of $7 billion across practice areas for people who were wronged or exploited.

Best of all, our consultations are free, and it costs nothing upfront to hire us. To find out if our New York wrongful termination attorneys can help you, fill out a case review form for a free case evaluation.


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