The Fisher Phillips COVID-19 Employment Litigation Tracker And Insights depicts a continued string of COVID related litigation being filed nationwide, and California leads the nation in cases filed.
This COVID-19 Employment Litigation Tracker includes cases that were a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are traditional employee vs. employer cases – both individual plaintiff and class actions. This should be considered a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, dataset.
As of today, the firm reports 2,408 cases filed nationwide. California has 548 of them, with New Jersey (311), Florida (176), Ohio (165) and New York (158) in the list of the top five states by case count. Two new cases were filed in California in the last seven days.
The top five reasons for litigation shows 185 of the 548 California cases are for employment discrimination, 153 for retaliation/whistleblower, 121 for remote work/leave conflicts, 53 for wage our problems, 37 for unsafe workplace and 12 for wrongful discharge.
By industry, in California 19.7% of cases are in healthcare, 11% in retail, 9.2% in hospitality, 7% in manufacturing and in fifth place 6.7% in professional and technical services.
The analysis by the Firm claims “many employers across the country find themselves swimming in costly and prolonged litigation fallout arising from legal claims alleging they failed to accommodate workers impacted by the virus.”
“The healthcare industry is distinctive target for such claims given the unique danger the work environment presents to employees; e.g., the heightened likelihood of even minimal exposure to infected patients and/or contaminated areas. As the numbers of infected patients decrease, we are seeing an increase in lawsuits alleging that healthcare employers failed to accommodate disabled employees more susceptible to fatal COVID-19 transmission.”
“This trend presents a somber reminder for healthcare employers: even when inundated in a global state of emergency, there remains the duty to dedicate time and prudent consideration to the interactive process when initiated by an employee with a medical disability.”
“From the Golden State to the coastal city of New Haven, Connecticut, healthcare facilities are fighting disability discrimination claims for the alleged failure to accommodate employees with respiratory conditions, including asthma and cancer, which increase susceptibility to calamitous complications from COVID-19 transmission.”
“For example, at Yale New Haven Hospital, an “administrative associate” at the Hospital’s blood bank was allegedly denied continued work-from-home (WFH) status despite having successfully worked remotely during the national shutdown. When the Hospital required all employees to return to work sites in May 2020, it allegedly denied a reasonable accommodation request by an associate who has cancer (making virus infection much more dangerous).”
“In a very similar fact pattern on the other side of the country in California’s capitol, Western Health Advantage allegedly denied WFH status to a data analyst stricken with asthma, despite the claim that it allowed similarly situated employees (e.g. other data analysts) without disabilities to work remotely.”
“And back on the east coast in New Jersey, a home healthcare company allegedly denied an occupational therapist also suffering from asthma an exemption from treating COVID-19 infected patients.”