As COVID-19 continues its rampage across America, employers continue to face a myriad of challenges.
One such challenge – employees faking a COVID-19 illness.
First, it’s important for everyone to understand that faking a COVID illness can lead to employment termination and possible criminal penalties.
According to the Society of Human Resource Management, “the FBI recently warned employers to be on the lookout for potential fraud, citing the case of an employee at a critical manufacturing facility who faked a positive COVID-19 test result, leading to a plant shutdown and productivity loss of $175,000.”
While it is essential for employers to take the health and safety of all employees very seriously, false claims of illness can have catastrophic effects on employers – as the example above shows.
In some cases, false claims create the need for plant or facility cleanings and/or facility shutdowns – all at great cost.
What Are the Rights of Employers When an Employee Claims a COVID illness?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have stated that employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or a health care provider’s note to validate their illness or to qualify for emergency paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
However, for those larger employers covered by traditional FMLA laws, the U.S. Department of Labor has stated that employers do have the right to ask for, “a statement or description of appropriate medical facts regarding the patient’s health condition for which FMLA leave is requested. The medical facts must be sufficient to support the need for leave. Such medical facts may include information on symptoms, diagnosis, hospitalization, doctor visits, whether medication has been prescribed, any referrals for evaluation or treatment (physical therapy, for example), or any other regimen of continuing treatment.” This is allowed even when the employee is also simultaneously seeking and eligible for leave under the FFCRA.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also stated that requesting proper documentation is permissible in reasonably accommodating individuals with a disability , as well as before allowing an employee to return to work after testing positive for the virus.
Finally – it is important for employers to outline for employees the penalties for providing falsified documents.
If you’re an employer and have questions about labor and employment law, and COVID-19 in particular, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing and one thing only – we are exclusively an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 25 years of experience in employment and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please call us if we can help you.
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