COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR LOUISIANA EMPLOYEES
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented and unique challenges for employers and employees. Our goal for this document is to gather useful resources and information for Louisiana-based employees at this very difficult time. Below is a sampling of the many questions that employees might have at this time along with general information and links to additional resources.
Disclaimer: This site is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation. Please consult with an attorney for advice about your particular employment situation. If you would like to speak with an attorney at Lasky Murphy, please contact our office at (504) 603-1500.
I need time off from work to take care of my children who are out of school due to COVID-19 or to take care of a family member who has COVID-19. Does my employer have to give me time off?
For many (though not all) employees, the answer will be yes. Under the recently-enacted Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), which took effect on April 1, 2020, employers are to provide two weeks of paid sick leave (based on the number of hours worked by the employee) if (1) the employee is subject to a federal, State, or local quarantine order related to COVID-19; (2) has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; (3) is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis; (4) is caring for an individual subject to a quarantine or self-quarantine order; (5) is caring for a child because the child’s school or place of care has closed due to COVID-19 precautions.
Under the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA), which also took effect on April 1, 2020, employees may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of (mostly) paid leave if they are unable to work or telework due to the need to care for their minor child because the child’s school or place of care has been closed or is otherwise unavailable due to a public health emergency. This is the only covered reason for leave under this law. The EFMLEA applies to employees who have been employed for at least 30 days by an employer with fewer than 500 employees. However, under the Act, the Department of Labor may exclude certain health providers and emergency responders from coverage and may also exempt small businesses with less than 50 employees if the paid leave requirement would jeopardize the business’ survival.
If I request time off to take care of my children or a family member due to COVID-19, can my employer fire me?
If you are eligible for EPSLA and/or EFMLEA leave and you take that leave, the answer is likely no. That leave is to be job-protected. This means that if an eligible employee takes EPSLA and/or EFMLEA leave, he or she will generally be eligible for job restoration at the end of that leave and cannot be disciplined, discharged, or otherwise retaliated against by the employer as a result of taking this leave.
I need time off from work because I have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus and have to quarantine. Does my employer have to give me time off or other accommodations?
It depends. For many (though not all) employees, the answer will be yes. Under the EPSLA (discussed above), many employers are required to provide employees with two weeks of paid sick leave due to COVID-19 reasons.
In addition, the Family Medical Leave Act entitles certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for serious health conditions or to care for family members with serious health conditions. FMLA leave is only available to employees who have worked for employers with 50 or more employees for at least one year. In addition, whether COVID-19 constitutes a serious health condition under the FMLA will depend upon the individual situation.
Also, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if an employee has COVID-19 or another serious medical condition that puts him or her at higher risk in the event of infection with COVID-19, an employer may be required to provide reasonable accommodations under the ADA and is not permitted to retaliate against the employee because he or she asks for leave.
What does my employer have to do to protect me and my coworkers from COVID-19?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act, requires employers to furnish each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” OSHA recently published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, outlining steps employers can take to help protect their workforce. OSHA has divided workplaces and work operations into four risk zones, according to the likelihood of employees’ occupational exposure during a pandemic. If you are concerned that your employer is not taking adequate safety measures related to the pandemic, you may file a complaint with OSHA: https://www.whistleblowers.gov/.
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) has released information for workers in Louisiana who have been impacted by COVID-19. You can file a claim for unemployment insurance by visiting www.louisianaworks.net/hire or calling 866-783-5567. http://www.laworks.net/Downloads/PR/COVID_19_Information.pdf. Due to the huge number of people filing for unemployment, Gov. John Bel Edwards has suggested people file online between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. to try to get through.
April 2, 2020 Executive Order by Governor Edwards regarding unemployment insurance: https://gov.louisiana.gov/assets/Proclamations/2020/43-JBE-2020-Provisions-for-Unemployment.pdf
If you are in the New Orleans area:
- The City of New Orleans Job 1 office is assisting with filing unemployment claims. Call (504) 658-4500, (504) 658-4547, or (504) 658-4522, Monday through Friday 8:30am to 6:30pm. https://nola.gov/economic-development/workforce-development/job1/
- WorkNOLA has published this guide to coronavirus-related job opportunities. https://worknola.com/coronavirus-resources?fbclid=IwAR2oGoJRoooV-OGTkEmfYGAs9DRBAxkUEQLI_GielKkG1C_I2hjTUBekkvk
- Catholic Charities offers assistance with SNAP (formerly food stamps), Medicaid, Medicare, and Unemployment benefits. For assistance, contact:
Mary Smith Office (504) 861-6360 cell (504) 605-9248
Doug Kariker Office (504) 310-6909 cell (504) 260-6443
- Greater New Orleans Foundation Service and Hospitality Family Assistance Program: https://www.gnof.org/service-and-hospitality-employee-family-program/
- Resources for artists and freelancers: http://www.artsneworleans.org/opportunity/creatives-relief-resources/.
- New Orleans Business Alliance’s gig economy workers’ relief fund: https://www.nolaba.org/relief-fund/
- The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund: https://rerf.us/
- The City of New Orleans’ homepage for all things COVID-19 related: https://ready.nola.gov/home/.
- The Workplace Justice Project at Loyola University College of Law is a great resource for workers in the time of COVID-19:
For information about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES):
- Fact sheets, Q&As, and other resources from the U.S. Department of Labor:
- A fact sheet on the FFCRA and the CARES Act from A Better Balance: https://www.abetterbalance.org/resources/federal-coronavirus-proposal-the-families-first-coronavirus-response-act-h-r-6201/
- Webinar and article on pregnancy and workplace rights in the time of COVID-19: https://www.abetterbalance.org/resources/know-your-rights-pregnancy-workplace-rights-covid-19-faq/
- Information about unemployment insurance provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act: https://www.nelp.org/publication/unemployment-insurance-provisions-coronavirus-aid-relief-economic-security-cares-act/.
- Additional resources from the National Employment Law Project (NELP): https://www.nelp.org/resources-to-support-workers-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/.
- A Guide from The Mom Attorney on the FFCRA: https://www.themomattorney.com/post/you-leave-of-absence-rights-under-the-new-families-first-coronavirus-response-act
For guidance from the EEOC on the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and COVID-19:
For OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19:
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