Under federal and California law, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace to their employees. The failure to uphold these obligations can result in serious legal consequences. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this responsibility has taken center stage. Now, employers must exercise more diligence to ensure that their employees are safe, healthy, and protected. What happens, however, if an employer allows COVID-19 policies and procedures to fall to the wayside? What happens if an employee loses their life as a result? While in some instances these types of claims are subject to workers compensation, it is important to review all the facts and evidence to determine whether a wrongful death or Fair Employment and Housing disability case can be filed in Superior Court.
Read about our January 2022 Covid-19 wrongful death lawsuit filed against Riverside County due to employer negligence.
When an employee asks for reasonable accommodation and is denied, and that denial results in injury or death, the employer can be held liable for all the harm it caused. Additionally, these accommodations apply to family members who are vulnerable to COVID.
The employers failure to follow safety precautions resulting in an employee getting family members sick with long haul COVID or even death also enables us to file a case in Superior Court for the harm called to the family. And if the case is subject to workers compensation, we work with premier workers compensation firms to achieve full and fair compensation.
At V. James DeSimone Law, we have a commitment to justice. For this reason, we uphold the rights of workers and advocate for victims of negligence in the workplace. While navigating these issues in the wake of COVID-19 may be difficult and overwhelming, but we do not shy away from the challenge. In early 2022, we filed the a Covid wrongful death claim against an employer and seek justice for the families of anyone whose loved one died from workplace Covid negligence – you can read our press release here. If a loved one passed away wrongfully due to COVID-19 in the workplace, there may be legal recourse available. Speak with an experienced attorney today at V. James DeSimone Law by calling (310) 693-5561 to get started.
Employees are guaranteed a safe work environment under both federal and state law. Federally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sets forth the requirements that employers must follow to keep their employees safe, including providing a workplace that is free from recognized hazards. This is further emphasized by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA. In California, employers have the responsibility to:
These requirements and responsibilities have been put in place long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now, they are drastically more important. With a highly-contagious virus spreading through our society, it has become more imperative that employers take all precautions necessary to avoid illness. While physical distancing and capacity limits for businesses and activities have ceased, California employers are still responsible for maintaining safe environments.
Acknowledging this heightened responsibility, California has issued a variety of new guidelines, rules, and resources on how to handle COVID-19 in the workplace. Under the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards, employers have been provided with new directions to keep their workplaces safe. These directions include access to testing, procedures to follow in the event of sickness in the workplace, and require employers to maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program.
Additionally, under California Labor Code Section 6401, “Every employer … shall adopt and use practices, means, methods, operations, and processes which are reasonably adequate to render such employment and place of employment safe and healthful. Every employer shall do every other thing reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees.”
If employers violate their legal obligations and it results in sickness or death, we can help.
Yes, masks are required in California workplaces. This is set forth in an order issued by the California Department of Public Health in early January of 2022. The order, which has been put into effect until at least February 15, 2022, requires that face coverings are to be worn in all indoor public settings. This requirement is upheld regardless of vaccination status and is being regularly reassessed based on the current COVID-19 conditions.
In light of this governmental order, employers now have the responsibility to enforce the wearing of masks in their workplaces. Failure to abide by the rules set forth in the order may result in legal consequences. This is especially true if an employee falls ill or passes away due to an employer’s negligence. It should be noted that mask requirements have been put in place periodically since the beginning of the pandemic. Employers were required to enforce these requirements as well and may be held accountable if they failed to do so.
Even though rules and regulations are constantly updating in response to the ever-changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers have a responsibility to stay up-to-date. They must acknowledge, accept, and implement all requirements set forth by federal and state law. Thus, when a mask-related order is passed down from the California Department of Public Health, for example, they must adhere to the new requirements. Lives are at stake, and these orders cannot be taken lightly.
If an employee dies as a result of an employer’s failure to adhere to required COVID-19 precautions, the employer can potentially be held liable. This has, in fact, already happened. A Riverside County employee died of COVID-19 that he contracted at work after his supervisors repeatedly ignored safety measures and requests to work from home. While the supervisors were aware of his underlying health issues, they refused all accommodation requests.
With the assistance of V. James DeSimone Law, Riverside County is being sued for wrongful death and violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, based on failure to provide reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee. The county is also being sued for negligence resulting in injury to the employee’s wife, who contracted COVID-19 from her husband and now suffers from long-term health effects. DeSimone Law is involved in a landmark effort to hold employers accountable for the health and safety of their employees in the midst of the pandemic.
Since the pandemic’s start in 2020, stress and tension have been at an all-time high. Regardless of politics and social zeitgeist, employers have a critical obligation to the safety of their employees in the workplace. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has become even more urgent and necessary. If an employee loses their life due to their employer’s negligence or failure to provide a safe workplace or reaonsable accommodations , it is possible to file a lawsuit and hold the employer accountable. Legal remedies are available, depending on the circumstances of your case.
We have written several articles about COVID-19 safety and employer obligations in the workplace since the start of the Pandemic:
As the law firm backing one of the first employment related COVID-19 wrongful death lawsuits in California, V. James DeSimone Law is dedicated to upholding the rights of California employees. We have the skill, experience, and knowledge necessary to advocate for the rights of you and your loved ones. If you believe that a wrongful death or serious illness has occurred as a result of COVID-related negligence, it may be possible to hold the employer responsible under the law. For more information or to discuss the details of your situation, consider contacting V. James DeSimone Law at (310) 693-5561 today.
Attorney V. James DeSimone is a 35+ year experienced civil rights & employment lawyer in Southern California. Jim is a Super Lawyer, Rated “Superb” by Avvo, and is a US News & World Report Best Law Firm in California.
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