April 21, 2020

Employment Law

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation for COVID-19 Infections

Workers’ compensation is available for any employee who suffers an injury on the job, but what if an employee contracts an illness or disease? During the coronavirus epidemic, we have seen millions of Americans put at risk in the face of a potentially deadly virus in industries ranging from the frontlines of healthcare and long-term care facilities to day care providers to grocery store workers. If you have contracted COVID-19 while on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation and protected from retaliation if you assert your rights. Our attorneys are experienced in helping clients protect their rights for retaliation related to workplace illness.

Illness or Disease and Employment

The Minnesota Department of Labor recently announced new protections for employees who have gotten sick with COVID-19 while at work. While nurses, doctors, paramedics, and other emergency responders are especially vulnerable to exposure while on the job, any Minnesota employee worker who can establish that an illness or disease was caused by a work exposure may bring a workers’ compensation claim. Under the expanded law, several categories of “presumptive” occupations are covered including, but not limited to:

  • Healthcare providers, nurses, and doctors who contracted COVID-19 on the job in a hospital, home care or long-term care facility
  • Paramedics, EMTs, fire fighters and peace officers who contracted COVID-19 while responding to an emergency call
  • Childcare providers for the children of healthcare workers and first responders

Additionally, employees may be able to seek benefits if:

  • You work in an office and contracted COVID-19 from a co-worker
  • You work in a grocery store and contracted COVID-19 while performing duties and facing customers
  • You work in a critical sector and have continued to perform your work-related duties despite potential exposure to COVID-19, including delivery drivers, utility workers, and others

This list is not exhaustive, as many other types of employees can still claim a workers’ compensation injury and may be eligible for relief. If you are seeking to collect workers’ compensation related to COVID-19 or another workplace illness, you must be able to document your condition and show that the coronavirus was, in fact, contracted as a result of your employment.

Protections Against Interference and Workers’ Compensation Retaliation for COVID-19

Importantly, workers who are terminated, threatened with discharge, or refused continued employment for seeking workers’ compensation benefits are protected by law from retaliation. Pharmacy, grocery store, healthcare, law enforcement, utility and food processor plant workers, etc., that are fired for reporting coronavirus as a potential workers’ compensation claim (seeking benefits) could have claims for retaliation and/or obstruction. Our employment law attorneys fight for the rights of all employees who face unlawful workers’ compensation retaliation in COVID-19 cases.

When should I file a COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Claim?

You should report your illness and file your claim as soon as you notice COVID-19 symptoms. Remember that in the state of Minnesota, first responders and health personnel do not need to offer proof that they contracted COVID-19 while on the job. It is presumed that these workers will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Other workers will need to provide some proof that they contracted the illness while on the job. Keep in mind that workers who are required to stay at home but are not exposed to COVID-19 with a positive result will not be able to file for workers’ compensation.

COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Minnesota

If you are a healthcare worker, firefighter, emergency personnel, or other employee on the front lines and have been retaliated against for seeking workers’ compensation for COVID-19, we can help. The attorneys at Wanta Thome Wanta & Jozwiak LLP are dedicated to pursuing the rights of employees who are facing workers’ compensation retaliation in Minnesota. Contact us for more information about how the coronavirus and COVID-19 has impacted employees’ rights.