Things are changing and a new norm is being created after the pandemic. Covid-19 has impacted all aspects of our lives, but how is it impacting places of employment and employment labor laws in Arizona?
Just recently, Maricopa County announced that masks are mandatory in public. This includes where you work. Some companies already made it mandatory, but for the time being, now everyone in the county must comply.
Some places are even limiting the number of people allowed in an establishment and making clear marks of social distancing.
Working During a Pandemic
Some people do not feel comfortable returning back to work just yet. So, then what?
Well, the employer actually has leverage when requiring employees to return to the actual workplace.
If the worker refuses, the employer can either offer to separate the worker from the public and other employees, lay off the worker, or find a replacement for the worker.
However, keep in mind that federal law does require the need to provide a safe workplace for all employees, especially right now.
There are some fine lines that employers need to be aware of. Allowing certain employees to continue to work at home because they have compromised immune systems and requiring others to return to a workplace is actually looked down on according to federal law. This is because you cannot decide who is allowed to return back to work based on disabilities, only using seniority and disciplinary history.
State of Arizona
In the state of Arizona, if you resign voluntarily, you usually can’t receive unemployment. But what happens if you feel unsafe to return to work? That is a different story.
If you can provide real proof of unsafe conditions at your workplace, you could receive compensation and be justified for leaving your job. Before doing so, always talk with the Department of Economic Security to address all of our concerns and report any safety concerns to OSHA.
Talk With an Employment Law Attorney
If you are unsure about your rights during a pandemic, as an employer or an employee, it is always best to talk with an experienced employment law attorney. They will be able to walk you through everything to ensure all of your questions are being answered, even during the pandemic.
We specialize in employment law at Hernandez Law Firm and can provide you the advice you need to fully understand your rights during these times.
It can be confusing, but when being treated unfairly at work, it could actually be considered retaliation. Either way, you could have some sort of claim on your hands. Before moving forward with any legal action, speak with an attorney and learn the difference between retaliation and unfair treatment.
Did you know that retaliation in the workplace is actually very common? The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives plenty of complaints each year.
The EEOC’s official definition states that retaliation in a work setting comprises a narrower set of circumstances than what is considered everyday retaliation. Three things must be present for a valid retaliation claim as stated in the Civil Rights Acts of 1964:
- You have engaged in protected activity
- Your employer took adverse action against you
- Your employer did this because you engaged in protected activity
Those who have filed a discrimination in the workplace claim are always encouraged to do so and should be protected from fear of being fired or punished for doing so. A retaliation reaction to filing a claim could be in the form of being denied a promotion, denied job benefits, a demotion, a suspension, or even a discharge from your job.
To move forward with a retaliation claim, you must provide evidence. Keep in mind that direct evidence can be very hard to find, but with the right attorney, like the skilled team at Hernandez Law, they will be able to prove it.
Unfair treatment in the workplace is when you have either been denied a promotion, denied job benefits, a demotion, a suspension, or even a discharge from your job for no reason and before filing any workplace discrimination claims. When this happens, you should always speak with an attorney to know your rights.
Have you suffered from an illness where you need to take time off of work? Or maybe you just had a baby and need some time to adjust. As an employee in Arizona, you should know your rights and what the employment law says about taking a medical leave of absence.
Family Medical Leave Act
The Family Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA, is available in Arizona. This program allows for eligible employees to take unpaid and job-protected leave. Some states have other laws surrounding medical leave, however, Arizona is not one of those states. This means employees in Arizona only have rights to FMLA.
Who is Eligible
To be eligible for FMLA, your company must have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in either the previous or current year. Employees that are eligible have worked for the company for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year.
Eligible Reasons to Take a Leave of Absence
The following reasons are covered by FMLA.
– Recoup from serious health conditions
– Care for a family member with serious health conditions
– Bond with a new child
– Handle qualifying situations for a family member that is in the service
– Care for a family member that is in the service and has been injured
Length of Leave of Absence
The length of time off varies and depends on the circumstance. Employees are allowed up to 12 work weeks in a 12 month period for serious health conditions, bonding with a child or handling family member issues. This renews every 12 months. If you have suffered a personal injury or need to be a caregiver to a family member in the service, you are allowed up to 26 weeks in a 12 month period.
While on Leave
While on leave under FMLA, you will still receive health insurance. The time off is unpaid, but if you have PTO hours saved up, those can be applied. Once your leave is over, you are entitled to be reinstated to either the same or an equivalent position.
If you do need to take a medical leave of absence, you should inform your manager or human resource department right away. Obtain a copy of the FMLA policy and complete all necessary forms. Always speak with an attorney if you have any questions or concerns with your leave of absence. Hernandez Law has the employment law experience you need to provide sound legal advice and representation when needed.
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There are some new changes when it comes to collecting unemployment pay in Arizona. The new law took effect on August 3rd and requires anyone who has been unemployed for four or more weeks to take any job, or risk losing unemployment benefits.
Did you know that Arizona has the 2nd lowest unemployment benefits in the country? The updated law now states that if you do not take ANY job after being unemployed for almost a month, you could lose those little benefits all together.
What exactly does ANY job mean?
The old law states that if you are unemployed, you must accept any SUITABLE job. This means that if you are overqualified for a job, you aren’t forced to take it. Other things that are always taken into consideration include a job that has a risk involving your health, safety or morals. Also, if your physical fitness, experience, previous wages or length of unemployment doesn’t match well with the job offered.
Things have now changed in Arizona. Back in May, Governor Doug Ducey signed the new law stating that if after four weeks, an unemployed person must take ANY job offered to them where they are earning more than 20 percent of the benefits they currently collect for unemployment.
Currently, if you have been laid off or fired in the state of Arizona, you can collect up to half of what you earned over a 26 week period. However, the state law has limitations. Arizona will only limit benefits to a total of $240 per week. Mississippi is the only other state in the country that actually has a lower cap.
This means that you must take any job that is offered to you, even if it is only $288 per week, which totals only $15,000 per year. If you fail to do so, you could lose your unemployment pay and benefits.
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It still isn’t quite official, but some states are looking to be granted more rights when it comes to drug testing for unemployment benefits and pay.
Under current law, drug testing for unemployment compensation is conducted under two circumstances. If someone loses employment due to illegal drugs or worked in an occupation where they had to get regular drug testing. However, under the new Trump administration, they are hoping to make changes and give the states more power to administer drug testing for unemployment pay and benefits.
The current administration feels that the regulations in place are not good enough and actually don’t address their key concerns. One of those concerns is that many pass through the initial screening of job applications, but go on to fail the drug tests and then end up applying for unemployment pay, without having to pass a drug test. The argument from the other side is that it is unconstitutional and could actually cost more for the state to drug test all trying to collect unemployment pay. Plus, they say in the end, it won’t help with poverty or the unemployment rate.
As of right now, all states already disqualify those from unemployment compensation if they have lost their job due to a failed drug test. Mississippi, Texas and Wisconsin already have laws in place where they can drug test those applying for unemployment pay, but none of them have implemented it yet. With the new laws looking to come into effect giving states more rights, then many more states could jump on board and start drug testing for unemployment pay and benefits.
Photo by rawpexels.
Unfortunately, harassment in the workplace is not an uncommon situation. While companies are taking steps to improve the situation, there is still a chance that you have been or could be a victim of some sort of harassment. While there are varying types and levels of harassment, many victims have similar reactions and stories.
Any form of harassment has the potential to make a victim feel fearful, uncomfortable while working, or embarrassed. Employees may choose to stay in a work environment where they face sexual harassment because of limited career options, financial reasons, or the perpetrator may even be promising fantastic career advancement opportunities.
Defining the Perpetrator
If you are experiencing harassment in the workplace, it is important to have an understanding of who is at the root of the issue. Sometimes a group of people decide to gang up against one individual, while other times the situation is more hidden and complex. Even a friendly relationship has the potential of crossing the line and becoming a volatile scenario.
Types of Harassment and Signs to Look Out For
Harassment can take on many forms and may involve religion, race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, and appearance. One of the most common types is sexual harassment. It is important to note that while females make up the majority of sexual harassment victims, men are also known to encounter similar situations. Harassment can happen to anyone, regardless of social class or superiority at the job.
Harassment may include name-calling, offensive photos or videos, intimidation, threats, ridicule, insults, and much more. The effects of workplace harassment can be devastating. Many victims report feelings of isolation, anxiety, fearfulness, and even depression. An employee may be forced to quit their job if the appropriate plan of action is not put in place during the initial stages.
When Should Legal Action Be Pursued?
Before pursuing legal action, there are some steps you should take. Make sure that you have spoken with the perpetrator and asked them to stop. This will make it difficult for them to convince a judge that it was playful banter you both engaged in. Keep physical records of any evidence to show your attorney. It is also a good idea to file a formal complaint with the company.
Contact us if you feel that you may have a case regarding workplace harassment, we would love to help you.
Feature photo by Marc Mueller.