Governor Sununu has ordered most employers to send their employees home if they are a threat to the health and safety of others in the workplace due to suspected COVID-19 infection. It is therefore entirely appropriate for an employee who is showing signs of COVID-19 infection to stay home, on governor’s orders. Here is the Governor’s order requiring employers to keep potentially infected employees out of the workplace. https://www.governor.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt336/files/files/emergency-order-52-a.pdf.
If an employee is terminated for not coming to work, consistent with the Governor’s orders, the employee likely would have a wrongful discharge claim. “Wrongful Discharge” is a legal term referring to a termination caused by an employer’s bad faith reaction to an employee’s refusal to perform an act discouraged by “public policy.” The Governor’s order above is “public policy,” that clearly discourages employees’ entry into the workplace if they are ill with COVID or COVID-like symptoms. So, if an employer terminates an employee for refusing to come to work sick with COVID symptoms, wrongful discharge doctrine likely can be used to help the employee obtain legal relief.
If you are an employee who has suffered consequences at work related to COVID-19, contact our office for a free initial consultation. Call 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form at https://www.nhlawoffice.com/contact-us.