How COVID-19 Could Prevent You from Getting Fired

May 29, 2020 | Allen A. Ritchie

Allen's Answers


The COVID-19 crisis could change if you can get fired.

Here is a real situation.

A grocery store worker in Maryland saw that some customers were not wearing masks; therefore, putting workers at the store in danger. He complained to management; he asked customers to cover up; he even went to the media. He told reporters about customers yelling at him and one supervisor that told him to take off his mask because customers might think he looked like a “terrorist.”

Now the legal problem.

In a right to work state like Alabama, he could be fired for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason, if it isn’t discriminatory. And I think he probably would have.

The worker acknowledged that if he did not belong to a union, he probably would have stayed silent.

Now, we are beginning to hear talk of stronger legislation to protect workers who speak their minds. Some legislators feel that workers must feel safe to speak out to the public, government regulators, and their fellow workers without the fear of being fired. As one employment lawyer I know put it, you should be able to be fired for “a just cause” not “just any cause.”

Businesses tend to counter that workers can refuse dangerous work, so workers have a choice. But is feeding your family or letting them go hungry really a choice?

I believe you are going to see more legal cases where workers were forced to work in unsafe conditions or be fired. Here is an example from HuffPost. They spoke to 12 Starbucks employees about safety fears. Only one allowed them to use her full name ― and that was because she had just quit.

If you are hurt in a traffic accident or suffer a personal injury, you can talk to us at the Law Firm of Eiland and Ritchie for free. We want to help you get back on your feet. We are working remotely mostly but are always available.

Also, join us on NBC 15 LawCall here in Mobile every Sunday night at 10:30 right after the news. We will take your calls live. We are experimenting with new ways to do the show and still follow the CDC guidelines. You might want to see what we have come up with.

Allen Ritchie

Alabama personal injury lawyer