Employees fear being fired for staying home due to COVID-19

Unemployment risks during a pandemic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Despite stay-at-home orders in Mecklenburg County local employees say they’re being forced to show up to work or face losing their jobs. A Charlotte employment attorney is calling on North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to sign an executive order protecting employees from retaliation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charlotte employment attorney Josh Van Kampen says local workers need more protection from state government.

“Governor Cooper could pass an executive order that says employees are protected from being terminated for following a stay at home order that violates North Carolina policy to do so,” employment attorney Josh Van Kampen said.

“And he could do that with a stroke of a pen.”

In an editorial he wrote for North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, Van Kampen argued that while the Coronavirus Families First statute passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump us a good first step, workers are still vulnerable.

The new statute mandates that employers provide two weeks of paid time off for employees but it does not apply companies of over 500 employees.

Van Kampen says he’s receiving dozens of calls from people who are fearful of being fired for staying home or for pointing out safety concerns related to COVID-19.

“Behind the scenes employees are being required to report to work. Umm in some instances in contravention of the Mecklenburg county stay at home order,” Van Kampen said.

In response to a WBTV email about employee protections a spokeswoman for Governor Cooper said he is considering more actions to protect employees.

“The Governor is taking action to protect working people by ordering expanded unemployment benefits, pushing Congress to provide immediate relief to workers and incentivizing businesses to have strong social distancing plans to keep their employees safe. The Governor will continue to consider additional steps to help workers as we move forward,” the statement read.

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