I’ve been working from home but it happens that some work I’ve been doing is COVID related. I’m glad to be – if not on the front lines – a few lines back.
Layoffs and furloughs because of COVID-19 have occurred and will occur in the future. But if there is a downsizing of one, and the *one* is you, then maybe COVID is not the real reason. Why were you selected? Was it because you were not working up to par? If so, termination might be a blessing. But I have found, in over 20 years of employee-rights practice that *usually* where there is an abbreviated layoff involving just a few, that those chosen were not chosen because of their skills, but (mostly) their age (or other discriminatory reasons).
I just filed a lawsuit – and, remember, a lawsuit contains only allegations and is not proof – that a major property management company feared my client, an administrative employee, had COVID-19 because she visited her daughter’s school in Elmhurst, Queens. (Elmhurst is a hotspot within the bigger New York City hotspot.) She does not have COVID, nor do we believe that because she visited a school that the employer believed she had COVID. Instead, this was a lie – the company really wanted to get rid of her because she had an accent.
Of course, many of us have heard of Asian Americans being targetted for rage and abuse because the coronavirus originated in China. That could happen in the workplace as easily as it could in the street.
I have also just filed a lawsuit – again, alleging facts with detailed allegations – that medical workers (nurses, mostly) are being deployed to New York by a Krucial Staffing (hired by the City of New York Health and Hospitals Corporation) in a bait-and-switch scheme. The company promised many nurses – mostly of African American descent, most in their late 20’s/early 30’s – huge combat pay to travel to New York. It promised Personal Protection Equipment – the most important of which is the N95 mask – and several positions to fill. They should not have made this representation, which we contend is a fraud; New York City did not have positions to fill, except for nurses willing to work in positions they were not competent to perform. This risks patients and the nurses, as the latter were not provided proper personal protection equipment (PPE), a common problem, but nevertheless something this company promised. Many of the traveling nurses developed symptoms, and – without quarantining or testing them for COVID – sent them on packed planes where, if exposed, could infect other passengers. Others quit their jobs to be on the front lines.
Some nurses complained and were told to “demobilize,” which basically means fired. The CEO of the company, after the nurses arrive in New York, is telling workers to be “flexible,” even though the company made promises that proper PPE would be provided, something the nurses replied on.
The lawsuit also brings claims under New York Labor Law § 741, which is perhaps the only whistleblower statute that has any teeth in the State of New York. Section § 741 requires a health-care employee who believes that patients are receiving substandard or inadequate care to report the violation to a supervisor immediately so the facility may correct the violation. If, after reporting the violation, you lose your job, you are a whistleblower and may sue within two years. (Item: a health-care worker’s good-faith belief in a violation, if reported, qualifies the worker for Labor Law protections. (There is also a weaker whistleblower law that applies to all employees – Labor Law § 740 – but it is weaker as it requires the violation must actually be a violation; good-faith belief doesn’t count.
I am interested in these cases. We do not have to meet (right now) in order for me to take your case if the facts support a lawsuit. If you believe you were fired for reporting healthcare violations, call me at 212-334-7398 to discuss. I can also refer you to other attorneys.
Also, Krucial, after the agreement on wages for employees was to include payment for quarantine, they reneged on that promise as of recently. If you have not been paid wages in accordance with your original agreement, please contact me at 212-334-7398 and once New York State courts reopen I will be filing “Wage Theft” cases against Krucial for reneging on quarantine pay, which allows double damages and attorneys fees to Krucial’s victims. They are not an honest company, as I have learned in my conversations with so many Krucial employees and reading documents in connection with the lawsuit. If you can’t get through on the phone to get a job with Krucial, you might consider that a blessing!
The amended federal complaint is attached below.