As Texas businesses reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some workers are concerned about their employment rights. Employment lawyer Rogge Dunn addressed workers’ concerns during a KPRC 2 Houston news segment.
Here are a few of Dunn’s answers from the news segment:
What if I feel healthy, but don’t want to go back to work? Do I have to?
Dunn: “If they are healthy and they don’t fit into one of the emergency family medical leave exceptions, they have to go back to work,” Dunn said. “Having said that, OSHA laws require employers to provide a safe workplace and there are instances where employees have said the workplace is not safe, that there isn’t PPE and masks and therefore, it is an unsafe condition and I’m refusing to go to work and that obviously has some potential consequences.”
What if the business reopens but I don’t have anyone to care for my child?
Dunn: “If you have a child that would have been in school or would have been in daycare and you are a parent taking care of them, the employer can’t force you to come into work.”
What if I work in a business that doesn’t provide the right protective equipment?
Dunn: “The OSHA law says that if the employer has an unsafe environment, you’re supposed to let the employer know. If the employer will not make it safe, then you contact OSHA. And then, if there’s not time to act, either through the employer or OSHA, you have the right to walk off the job and refuse to work. If the employer retaliates against you, then you have a legal claim and/or lawsuit.”
What if I have an underlying health condition and the business that I work for opens back up? What are my rights?
Dunn: “If that health condition–in the context of the environment they’re working–would put them in imminent harm of significant risk or death, then yes, they could walk off.”
To view the full news segment and article, visit the KPRC 2 website here.