ALLENTOWN, Pa. - 69 News has been getting calls from panicked viewers who work with someone who has come down with coronavirus, and many have been asking what can they do if they're afraid to go to work.
WFMZ's Josh Rultenberg spoke with a local lawyer to get that answer.
Loren Speziale is a partner at the Gross McGinley law firm in Allentown. She says employees are in a tough spot if they don't want to go to work because someone has come down with coronavirus.
"We're an at-will state, as you know, in Pennsylvania so that means generally an employer can fire someone for any reason or no reason so long as it's not illegal," Speziale said.
But federal law still requires the company to make sure the workplace is reasonably safe.
"So you have OSHA, and OSHA says that you need to provide an environment that's safe for your employees and that's where some employees are saying I don't know if I'm safe," Speziale said.
Speziale says she typically represents employers versus employees and has tried to steer bosses in the right direction. She says it's not so easy for employers right now, either.
"When you look at the CDC guidelines and what all employers who remain open are required to comply with (as far as) social distancing and again going back to OSHA, if you have an employee in the workplace who has coronavirus, is that a safe environment?" Speziale said. "I think that there's gonna be some problems there."
We've gotten lots of calls about forced vacation time and if that's legal. Speziale says it is. Employers can force you to take vacation time if the office is closed. But there are some recently passed laws that will help you in the near future.
In the meantime, Speziale says bosses and employees are in the same boat.
"Everyone's just trying to understand what does this mean for me, trying to do right by their employees because everyone is in a very difficult situation," Speziale said.
The Gross McGinley law firm is answering people's legal questions at its online blog.