Workplace safety laws require that workplaces are free from hazards that are likely to cause death or serious harm. While there are no specific regulations in place for COVID-19 or airborne viruses, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests that employers:
- Provide personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and masks, to all workers who risk exposure to the virus.
- Promote hand-washing, respiratory etiquette, social distancing, wearing face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), and telecommuting when possible, along with arranging regular cleaning at the workplace and discouraging workers from using one another’s phones, desks, or equipment.
- Identify and isolate sick employees, and send them home.
- Improve air filtration and ventilation, and install physical barriers such as sneeze guards to prevent infection.
Please see White House / CDC Guidelines on how your employer can keep you safe during the phased “Opening Up America Again.”
Request for reasonable accommodations
A number of pre-existing conditions increase the risks associated with COVID-19. In the United States, people with disabilities (defined as a substantial physical or mental impairment) are legally protected from workplace discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you have a pre-existing condition, contact your healthcare provider to discuss whether your health status is protected under ADA and you can request reasonable accommodations in the workplace during the pandemic. Any requests for accommodation is the responsibility of the employee who needs the accommodation. This means you must tell your employer what reasonable accommodation(s) you require.
If you feel that disclosing your disability to your employer has resulted in workplace discrimination, you may file a complaint here.