loader
Page is loading...

Resource

COVID-19 Related Workplace Litigation Tracker

September 16, 2020

Wage and Hour Group Editors: Kathleen Anderson, Scott Witlin, Peter Wozniak, Mark Wallin
Contributing Authors: Norma Zeitler, Terese Connolly, Mayra Bruno, Caroline Dickey, Carolina Flores, Anthony Glenn, Taylor Hunter, Christina Janice, Alex Petrik, Sana Swe

The Barnes & Thornburg Wage and Hour Practice Group continues to monitor workplace litigation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are watching COVID-related workplace litigation in courts across the country, alleging violations of a wide variety of state and federal employment laws and regulations, and we are analyzing trends in the cases filed to hopefully help business prepare for potential pitfalls. We hope you find the catalog of cases helpful, and will continue to provide weekly updates as new cases are filed.

Index

Cases are grouped by type of litigation. You may use these links to jump to a section.

Breach of Contract

August 10, 2020
Crane, Jr. v. M.B. Kayani, Physician, P.C. (St. Lawrence County, New York)
The plaintiff, an ophthalmologist, alleges, among other things, breach of employment contract for being furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that he entered into an employment agreement in 2012 to provide ophthalmologist services. The plaintiff alleges that the agreement provides that it “may be terminated by either party upon no less than ninety (90) days written notice,” and that the ophthalmology practice may terminate the agreement for “documented inadequate performance on [the plaintiff’s] part.” The complaint alleges that on March 20, 2020, the COO informed the plaintiff that the practice had “furloughed” the plaintiff because “there was insufficient patient volume” “due to COVID-19.” The plaintiff claims that, although he was told that the reason he was furloughed was low patient volume, other physicians and clinicians in the practice continued to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the practice even hired a new physician assistant. On June 8, the practice lifted the plaintiff’s “furlough.” He was then permitted to resume providing services to patients, but was terminated approximately two weeks later, for allegedly refusing to examine another doctor’s patient and “berating a technician,” which the plaintiff denies. The plaintiff alleges, among other things, that his employer breached his employment agreement by furloughing him during the COVID-19 pandemic and by “improperly terminating” him.

August 7, 2020
Edge, et al. v. Dermatology Solutions (Lee County, Florida)
The two plaintiffs were employed by a dermatology practice. One plaintiff was employed as a physician assistant, and the other was employed as a registered nurse. Both plaintiffs allege that they were under employment contracts that required 90-day written notice for termination without cause. The plaintiffs allege that as of March 18, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendant did not have proper safety procedures in place. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the defendant did not require the use of PPE, did not screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms before seeing them, and did not require social distancing. The plaintiffs claim that they explained their safety concerns to their supervisors, but that their concerns were not taken seriously. The plaintiffs further allege that one supervisor insisted on being in close contact with the plaintiffs without a mask after he had traveled through multiple airports, and that he openly mocked their concerns about the virus. The plaintiffs claim that the supervisor told them that COVID-19 was all “media hype” and that they were all going to contract the virus. The plaintiffs allege that they asked if they could use their paid time off until safety measures and screening protocols were put in place, and were told that they could do so. However, the plaintiffs claim that during their approved leave, they received text messages stating that they were terminated, and that they were not provided with reasons for their terminations. The plaintiffs claim that their terminations were not for cause, and that the defendant therefore breached their employment contracts. The plaintiffs also bring a cause of action for whistleblower retaliation under Florida law. 

August 3, 2020
Quiggins v. Lindenwood University (St. Charles County, Missouri)
The plaintiff, a theater professor, sued the defendant for breach of his employment contract. The plaintiff alleges that in March 2020, he and the defendant executed a contract for the plaintiff to teach theater during the 2020-2021 school year. The plaintiff alleges that in May 2020, the defendant told him that it would not honor his contract for the upcoming school year due to the uncertainty regarding enrollment arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the plaintiff alleges that as of July 2020, the defendant’s stated enrollment for the 2020-2021 school year was the same as it had been the previous year. The plaintiff seeks damages arising out of the defendant’s alleged breach of contract, including lost pay and benefits.

June 25, 2020
Gillule v. Manhattan Woods Enterprises, LLC, et al. (Rockland County, New York)
The plaintiff alleges that he entered into an employment contract with the defendants to act as the club manager at a private golf club. He alleges that under the contract, he could only be terminated for cause. He claims that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company suspended business operations and stopped paying his salary. He claims that the company failed to give proper notice of the suspension of operations under New York’s WARN Act. He further alleges that when the company began lifting the suspension on business operations, the company refused to permit him to return to work and later ceased paying for his group health insurance. He claims that he was terminated without cause in violation of his employment contract. He brings causes of action for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and failure to provide proper notice under New York’s WARN Act. 

June 24, 2020
Flagg, et al. v. Hubbard Radio Seattle, LLC (King County, Washington)
The plaintiff, who is known as Jubal Fresh, alleges that he is one of the most popular radio personalities in Seattle. He claims that he entered into an employment contract with the defendant under which he would perform on the defendant’s radio show. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant sent him a letter in January 2020 stating that the company had grounds to immediately terminate his employment for cause as a result of his “inappropriate, unprofessional, offensive, and insubordinate conduct,” including certain posts by the plaintiff on Facebook and YouTube. The plaintiff alleges that despite the letter, the company continued to request his services for several months, including having the plaintiff shoot promotional videos. The plaintiff claims that in April 2020, the company sent an email to his agent providing formal notice that it was terminating the employment contract with the plaintiff for cause. The plaintiff claims that he requested that the company provide details concerning the “cause” for the termination, but that it has failed to do so, because no cause exists. He claims that the termination for cause is a pretext for terminating the contract because of decreased advertising revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the plaintiff alleges that the company sent a letter to his counsel attempting to enforce the non-compete provisions in the employment contract despite the fact that the company terminated the contract. He brings causes of action for breach of contract and injunctive and declaratory relief.

June 12, 2020
Kalsey v. Dialsource, Inc., et al. (Sacramento County, California)
The plaintiff worked as the head of product for a software company. The plaintiff alleges that he entered into an employment contract with the defendant employer for a term of one year and a guaranteed salary of $250,000. The plaintiff alleges that in March 2020, the company began experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, informed him that he was being terminated. He claims that the company offered to pay him a severance of $20,000, but that this sum would not cover what he was owed under his employment contract. The plaintiff alleges that he later received a letter from the company’s counsel, who informed him that he was being terminated for cause, and therefore the salary guarantee in the employment contract did not apply. The plaintiff brings causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, and waiting time penalties.

Constitutional Rights

June 3, 2020 
Dr. Quintella Bounds v. Country Club Hills School District 160, et al. (Northern District of Illinois)
The plaintiff, a “tenured educator licensed to serve students with special needs,” claims violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Illinois law. The plaintiff served as director of student services from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, under a contract. The plaintiff claims that the school board voted to rehire her through June 2021, and that she received notification of that decision on March 25, 2020. Per the plaintiff, however, on that same day she “became violently ill … and was admitted to the emergency room where she was diagnosed as suffering from the COVID 19 virus and placed in quarantine for 14-days.” The plaintiff reports that, from that point, the defendants forced her to “continue her job duties even though they knew she was in quarantine and struggling to survive” and that she was informed on April 2, 2020, that her position was being posted and her job would terminate on June 30, 2020, because she did not sign or accept the contract that was sent to her on March 25, 2020. The plaintiff claims that the school board posted her position on April 2, 2020, without ever giving her an explanation or an opportunity to address the matter. According to the plaintiff, the board “willfully and deliberately disregarded [her] constitutional rights when it rescinded her employment agreement without notice or an opportunity to be heard, either before or after rescinding the agreement.” The plaintiff also makes a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, stating that, on March 16, 2020, she notified her superior that “she was at high risk for contracting the COVID-19 virus because of her age and she suffered from an underlying condition.” 

May 29, 2020
Doe v. Pasadena Independent School District (Southern District of Texas)
In this class action on behalf of certain hourly employees of a school district, the plaintiffs allege that the school district’s attempt to recoup additional monies paid for on-site work to employees during the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes a taking without just compensation under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, is a violation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and is a breach of contract. The plaintiffs allege that around the time that a county order went into effect requiring individuals to stay home unless performing essential services, the school district emailed the plaintiffs regarding which jobs were considered essential and which jobs were not. The school district’s email also stated that each hourly employee would be paid a “salary” of 40 hours per week at the employee’s regular hourly rate, and “one and a half times their regular hourly rate for any time they spent working on-site performing jobs deemed essential.” The plaintiffs were deemed essential, and were required to work on-site, and were paid the additional amount for their on-site work. After approximately one month, the school district emailed the plaintiffs, stating that there had been “a major clerical error” that “caused hourly employees to receive overpayments of premium/call out pay for time worked on-site during the [county order],” and that the employer “was required to take all necessary action to correct these overpayments immediately.” The plaintiffs allege that the employer wrongfully attempted to recoup the onsite pay plaintiffs received when the defendant realized that it was not “going to be receiving as much in FEMA and/or other relief program funds as it anticipated,” and that there was going to a budget shortfall.

April 23, 2020
Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Inc. v. City of New York (Queens County Supreme Court)
Complaint filed on behalf of approximately 10,000 corrections officers alleging that their right to preserve their bodily integrity under the New York Constitution has been violated by the Department of Corrections’ practices of: (1) requiring corrections officers to work additional overtime shifts without adequate rest as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) not requiring a negative COVID-19 test to return to work. 

Constructive Termination

September 3, 2020
Hummel v. The Devereaux Foundation (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, a former administrative assistant, filed suit under the ADA against the defendant, a behavioral health organization. The plaintiff alleges that she suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which impairs her lung function. After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plaintiff requested and initially received permission to work from home two to three days a week. After several weeks, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant told her that she was only able to work from home one day a week. The plaintiff went to her pulmonary specialist, who recommended, due to her COPD, that she work from home as many days as possible to limit her exposure to COVID-19. Nevertheless, the defendant continued to require the plaintiff to come to the office four days a week. After several more weeks, the defendant told the plaintiff that she would be required to work from the office five days a week. When the plaintiff objected, the defendant stated that it could not accommodate her requests to work from home, and that if she could not come into the office, she could use her PTO. The plaintiff alleges that after she exhausted her PTO, she advised the defendant she would be returning to work and that, in response, the defendant told her she could not come back until she received a note from her doctor allowing her to return to work as normal. Thereafter, the plaintiff resigned, alleging that she did not believe the defendant would let her return to work. The plaintiff claims that the defendant violated the ADA by failing to accommodate her, discriminating against her, and constructively discharging her. 

August 18, 2020
Smith v. Meadows Ridge Care Center, LLC, et al. (San Bernardino County, California)
The plaintiff, a CNA for a medical facility, alleges that she was constructively discharged in violation of California public policy, and discriminated against for her real or perceived disability in violation of FEHA. The plaintiff alleges that in response to COVID-19-related executive orders, the defendant’s administrator informed the plaintiff and other workers that they were permitted to wear masks, but that they would have to buy their own. The plaintiff alleges that she and her colleagues did not have access to masks or other PPE. The plaintiff also alleges that the defendants failed to inform the employees which patients were infected with COVID-19, or the risk areas associated with COVID-19 deaths. The plaintiff alleges that she was “[f]orced to choose between her life or her job,” and that she chose her life. The plaintiff alleges that due to an influx of patients, she was overworked and overstressed. The plaintiff alleges that “according to regulations,” she was not authorized to handle such a high workload by herself, and that a patient complained she was not being fed properly due to the high workload of all employees. The plaintiff alleges that the administrator informed her that if she reported another complaint, that she would be fired. The plaintiff claims that “[g]iven that she was legally obligated to report what constituted elder abuse . . . she found herself constructively terminated.”

July 23, 2020
Stine v. Zwerling Broadcasting System, Ltd. (Santa Cruz County, California)
The plaintiff alleges that he was constructively discharged in violation of California public policy, and that he was retaliated against for asserting his rights under California law to be classified as an employee. The plaintiff, a co-host of a radio show, claims that he repeatedly requested to be classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor. The plaintiff claims that he asked his supervisor about AB-5, the California law regarding who should be classified as employees. His supervisor allegedly first told him that AB-5 did not apply to the defendant employer “because that is the way [the owner] wants it.” When the plaintiff brought up the issue of classification as an employee again, his supervisor purportedly responded that, due the COVID-19 pandemic, AB-5 cannot be enforced, and that the California legislature was trying to repeal the statute. The plaintiff alleges that his supervisor also said, “if this causes you such anguish, you should quit.” After a discussion with the owner about the issue which did not result in an agreement over the plaintiff’s employment status, the plaintiff resigned from his position because he found “the workplace environment to be intolerable.” As such, the plaintiff claims “he was constructively terminated because he pointed out that as an employee he was entitled to [certain] benefits and [the employer] refused to provide them.”

June 29, 2020
Lightfoot v. Lucca Freezer & Cold Storage, Inc., et al. (Gloucester County, New Jersey) 
The plaintiff, an employee in accounts receivable, alleges that she was retaliated against for complaining about the defendants’ “utter distain for employee health and safety in the workplace” in the wake of COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges she was retaliated against for raising safety concerns about another employee coughing at work, and for requesting an accommodation to work remotely to care for her school-aged children. The plaintiff alleges that in retaliation for her complaint and request for an accommodation, the defendants manufactured performance issues, overloaded her with job responsibilities, and set unattainable goals for her. Thus, the plaintiff claims that the defendants thereby “took retaliatory action against Plaintiff, by and through her constructive termination,” in violation of New Jersey law. 

June 23, 2020
Elizabeth Donohew v. America's Insurance Associates Inc. dba Moody Agency, et al. (Middle District of Florida)
The plaintiff, an employee for a CPA firm, claims that she was denied expanded FMLA leave she was entitled to under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and thereafter constructively discharged when her employer forced her to take an unpaid, unprotected leave to care for her daughter whose school was closed due to COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that when her daughter’s school closed as a result of the pandemic, she requested to work remotely, as other employees without school-age children had been allowed to work from home. The employer allegedly denied the plaintiff’s request and instead advised her to “drop her daughter at the YMCA for $95.00 per week.” The plaintiff claims she then requested to use her accrued paid time off to care for her daughter, and that this request was also denied. The plaintiff claims she was then placed on an unpaid leave, forcing her to resign.

June 17, 2020
Tobey v. Landmark of DesPlaines Rehabilitation and Nursing LLC (Cook County, Illinois)
The plaintiff was the assistant director of nursing at a long-term care facility. She alleges that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendant allowed outside visitors inside the facility, even though the defendant was aware that this endangered the patients. She also claims that the defendant made personnel who were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 report for work, risking the health of the personnel and the patients. Further, the plaintiff claims that the defendant forced her to work longer shifts than were legally permissible, including making her work for 24 hours in a row without sleep. Additionally, she claims that the defendant imposed unreasonable duties on her that were outside of her job description. The plaintiff alleges that as a result of these actions by the defendant, she was forced to resign and was thus constructively discharged.

Failure-to-Pay Claims 

September 8, 2020
David Estling, GIDB Tiki, LLC d/b/a Tiki Hut (District of South Carolina) 
The plaintiff, a manager, claims violations under the FFCRA and the FLSA when his employer failed to provide notice of his rights under the EPSLA and failed to provide benefits to which he was entitled under the act. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he was directed to quarantine by a health care provider because he was in close proximity to a person experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, because he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and because he tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges he was denied 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave as required under the FFCRA. The plaintiff alleges that her employer’s refusal to provide paid leave constitutes a willful violation of the FLSA.

September 2, 2020
Shawn Campo, et al. v. Wokcano Mainplace LLC (Orange County, California)
The plaintiffs brought suit for the defendant’s alleged failure to pay wages and alleged retaliation for complaints about the defendant’s refusal to pay wages in a timely manner. The plaintiffs were furloughed from the defendant’s restaurant after California’s governor ordered all restaurants and bars to shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19. The plaintiffs allege that the defendant failed to issue the plaintiffs’ last payroll checks in a timely fashion, and that they are entitled to penalties because of the defendant’s willful failure to pay the plaintiffs all wages due to them at the time of the workers’ separation. The plaintiffs allege that the defendant further violated the California Labor Code when it unlawfully retaliated against the plaintiffs for their complaints by refusing to continue their furlough status, and instead terminating each plaintiff’s employment. The plaintiffs also bring unrelated claims for failure to pay overtime. 

August 24, 2020 
Harris v. Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (Third Circuit, Hawaii)
The claimant, a part-time bicycle repair technician who suffered from asthma, informed his employer on March 23 that he did not feel safe returning to work due to his concerns over exposure to COVID-19. When the claimant told his employer that he was not going to work a scheduled shift on March 24 and requested to work remotely instead, the employer said he could not work remotely and his refusal to report to work would be treated as a voluntary resignation. The claimant did not report to work, his employment was terminated, and he filed for unemployment benefits. The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations denied the application for unemployment benefits after finding that he quit without good cause. The claimant appealed the denial of benefits to a hearing officer, asserting that he did not quit and that, even if he did, he should be eligible for unemployment benefits because his particular circumstances established good cause to quit under the applicable Hawaii administrative rules. The hearing officer affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits, finding in part that the claimant failed to provide a statement from his health care provider advising him to quit his job. The claimant then requested that the appeal be reopened, asserting that the COVID-19 pandemic constituted a change in working conditions. He maintained that because of his underlying health condition, the change in working conditions was detrimental to his health and safety, and therefore fell within one of the enumerated reasons for establishing good cause. The hearing officer denied the claimant’s request, finding that the claimant failed to submit any new evidence to warrant reopening the appeal. The claimant then filed a notice of appeal to the circuit court, asking the circuit court to reverse the decision to deny his application for unemployment benefits.

August 18, 2020
Sara Ingster v. New York City Health & Hospitals (New York County, New York)
The plaintiff, an addiction counselor at a hospital, suffers “from the medically documented conditions of diabetes and mycosis fungoides, and is and was immunocompromised.” The plaintiff asserts that as a result, she “would be at significant medical risk if exposed to the COVID virus at her worksite.” After the COVID-19 pandemic began, she alleges that she was granted her requested accommodation of working from home five days per week (her full work week). After three months, the plaintiff alleges that the “defendant revoked plaintiffs five days per week work from home schedule and substituted same with a two days per week work from home schedule.” According to the complaint, since the plaintiff was unable to work on-site due to her “aforesaid disabilities,” her salary was reduced such that she is only paid for two days per week. The plaintiff claims that the revocation of her accommodation and decreased salary violated the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. 

August 17, 2020
Mayra Santos-Urquiola v. Kingcade & Garcia PA d/b/a Kingcade; Garcia & McMaken; Timothy S. Kingcade (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff, a paralegal, claims that the defendants, law firms and lawyers, failed to pay her overtime wages in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The plaintiff also claims that the defendants failed to pay her for her time away from work when she had to self-quarantine because she had tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff’s job duties involved interviewing the firm’s clients, reviewing relevant documents, and preparing bankruptcy petitions. With respect to the overtime claim, the plaintiff claims that she was paid $50 per petition or case that she handled (and that she was not paid anything for petitions that clients did not sign). The plaintiff reportedly worked between 60 and 70 hours per week, but was not paid overtime wages. With respect to her COVID-19 claim, the plaintiff alleges that she tested positive for the virus and was advised by a physician to self-quarantine. After 10 days, the plaintiff tested negative, but continued to experience symptoms. She claims that she was told that she needed to come to work and not work remotely. The plaintiff claims that her employer’s actions violated the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, entitling her to litigation expenses and costs, liquidated damages, attorney fees and other relief. 

July 29, 2020
Pacheco v. Yorkshire Building Services Inc. (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff worked as a janitor and cleaning employee for the defendant, “a provider of building maintenance, janitorial, and cleaning services to commercial accounts.” The plaintiff alleges that despite being asymptomatic, he obtained a COVID-19 test because he had a newborn child. The plaintiff claims that he tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff informed his supervisor of his test results, and was directed to self-quarantine. Following his quarantine, the plaintiff alleges that his second COVID-19 test was negative. The plaintiff alleges that prior to his negative test results, and while still asymptomatic, he was terminated. He claims that his supervisor “stated that the Defendant did not want him anymore.” The plaintiff alleges that his termination violated the FMLA and the FFCRA. Wholly unrelated to the plaintiff’s COVID-19 allegations, the plaintiff also brings a wage and hour collective action under the FLSA for unpaid overtime. The plaintiff alleges that in those weeks in which he “worked many overtime hours, he was paid for all his hours, but at his regular rate,” rather than the mandatory 1.5 times his regular rate. Based on his allegations, the plaintiff brings a putative collective action on behalf of “all other current and former employees...who worked in excess of forty (40) hours during one or more weeks...without being compensated ‘at a rate not less than one and a half times the regular rate at which he is employed.’” 

July 18, 2020
McPhee v. Nations Client Resolution, LLC (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff, who identifies herself as “an exceptional employee” with “no significant history of performance, attendance, or disciplinary issues,” alleges that she was terminated in violation of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)). The plaintiff alleges that after she requested leave to care for her grandfather, who had tested positive for COVID-19, her employment was terminated. The plaintiff alleges that she was discriminated against for requesting the leave, and that the defendant failed to pay her eighty hours of paid leave under the EPSLA. The plaintiff alleges that the temporal proximity of the request and the termination of her employment create a presumption of the defendant’s retaliation “for attempting to exercise her rights under the [EPSLA].”  

July 17, 2020
Spence, et al. v. State of New York (Albany County, New York)
The plaintiffs, state employees of the New York Department of Labor, allege that they were denied appropriate overtime pay in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York law.  The plaintiffs allege that “the spread of coronavirus throughout New York and the United States led to the massive increase in claims for benefits and [unemployment insurance] by individuals and business owners facing unemployment and economic strain.”  As such, the plaintiffs claim that during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, “various New York State Executive Branch agencies (including, but not limited to, the [New York Department of Labor]) began offering overtime compensation opportunities to their employees … to assist the DOL with the massive increase in claims for benefits and Unemployment Insurance.”  The complaint alleges that employees were required to work at least 15 hours of overtime beginning in May, and 7.5 hours of overtime per week in July.  The plaintiffs claim that their overtime rate was improperly “computed using a lower rate than their regular hourly rate,” in violation of the FLSA and New York law.

July 9, 2020 
Mackie v. Coconut Joe’s IOP LLC, et al. (District of South Carolina)
The plaintiff, a former server, alleges his termination violated the FFCRA. In addition, he brings a putative FLSA collective action, claiming that the defendants violated the law’s minimum wage provisions. Pre-COVID 19, the plaintiff was a server at the defendants’ restaurant, which temporarily closed on March 18, 2020. When the restaurant re-opened on May 4, the plaintiff was told to work as a fry cook. The plaintiff claims that he is missing his paycheck (and his portion of a “tip pool”) for the period of May 4 to May 10. The plaintiff alleges that the restaurant did not follow rules for structuring a tip pool that would let it pay less than minimum wage to tipped employees. He claims that the restaurant required tipped employees to share their tips with kitchen employees in violation of the FLSA. The plaintiff, for himself and others, requests collective action certification, reinstatement, retained tips, unpaid minimum wages, liquidated damages, and attorney fees. The plaintiff also says that on May 12 he “started have difficulty breathing.” Management told him to get back to work. The plaintiff reported he could not catch his breath and thought he could have COVID-19. He told a manager that he was going to see a doctor and was not quitting, and then left work. A manager allegedly texted the plaintiff to say that employer interpreted his action as a resignation because he left without permission. On May 13, the plaintiff texted the employer a picture of a doctor’s note showing the diagnosis of a “panic attack.” The plaintiff claims that he engaged in “protected activity under the FLSA’s anti-retaliation provision when he left work to seek a medical diagnosis because he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.” The plaintiff requests compensatory and emotion damages related to his allegedly retaliatory discharge.

June 25, 2020
Entrekin, et al. v. City of Shreveport, et al. (Caddo Parish, Louisiana)
In this class action filed on behalf of all police officers for the City of Shreveport, the complaint alleges that the defendant employer failed to provide compensatory time off owed to the officers. The complaint alleges that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shreveport City Hall “was officially closed to the public and therefore officially closed.” The complaint also claims that a police department general order dictates that employees reporting for duty at a time when City Hall is closed are to receive compensatory time off. However, the complaint alleges that the police chief “erroneously stated . . . that the pandemic did not meet the prescribed criteria of [the order] and officers would not receive premium pay for their required services at this time.” The complaint also alleges that certain officers received compensatory time off, but others did not. The complaint seeks compensatory relief for the time off not yet awarded, and an order declaring that officers are entitled to compensatory time off pertaining to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 22, 2020
Tavarez v. Executive Airlink, Inc. (Palm Beach County, Florida)
The plaintiff, an airline pilot who was employed by the defendant pursuant to an employment agreement, filed a four-count complaint against his former employer. The plaintiff alleged that he was terminated in violation of the Florida private whistleblower statute, and that the defendant violated the Florida Minimum Wage Law, failed to pay him wages even though it was put on notice of such failure, and breached his employment agreement. The plaintiff alleges that on three occasions, he was instructed by the defendant to fly airplanes with an inoperative standby horizon, in violation of federal regulations. The plaintiff alleges that on each occasion, he emailed the defendant to inquire whether the defendant was in compliance with federal regulations but received no response. After the defendant first failed to pay him the wages required by his employment contract, the defendant then terminated his employment, citing COVID-19 and the economic impact on the defendant. According to the plaintiff, this was impermissible under the terms of his employment agreement. 

June 19, 2020
Doe, et al. v. North Pacific Seafoods, Inc., et al. (San Francisco County, California)
The plaintiff, a seasonal worker, alleges a putative class action complaint against the defendant employer, a seafood processor, claiming various violations of the California Labor Code as well as false imprisonment of the putative class members. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant arranged for her and other seasonal workers to travel to Los Angeles, from around Southern California and several states in Mexico, to fill out employment paperwork and to be tested for COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that while in Los Angeles, she and the putative class were kept in close proximity while filing out employment paperwork, in violation of social distancing guidelines mandated by the city. Further, the plaintiff claims that she and the putative class members were confined to their hotel rooms against their will while awaiting the results of the COVID-19 test, and, after several individuals tested positive, the putative class members were further confined against their will for another 11 days. The plaintiff alleges that she was not paid during this time, that she was only given two meals per day, and that she was prevented from leaving her hotel room for the duration. Based upon these allegations, the plaintiff claims that the defendant not only violated the California Labor Code by failing to pay her any wages during this confinement, but that she was prevented from obtaining other work as a result of the defendant employer’s tortious conduct of falsely imprisoning her and the putative class. The plaintiff seeks wages for the entire time of confinement, including overtime, as well as damages for emotional distress arising out of the alleged false imprisonment.

June 17, 2020
James Richard v. Ambulnz Health, LLC and Ambulnz TN, LLC (County of Kings, New York)
The plaintiff, a resident of Tennessee, brought a wage and hour class action on behalf of a putative class of EMTs and paramedics who were deployed to New York City to work on COVID-19 Strike Teams. The plaintiff alleges that he was promised he would be paid seven days a week, 24 hours a day during his employment. The plaintiff also claims that he and the class actually were employed 24 hours per day, because when their shifts were over, they had to take the employers’ transportation to the hotel, could not leave the hotel when not working, and were required to carry controlled substances at all times, rendering him on-duty all day long – but the plaintiff alleges that they were not paid for all of their work. Finally, the plaintiff claims that the defendant had security guards at the hotel, enforcing its rule against leaving the hotel. The plaintiff brings claims for unpaid overtime wages, unpaid spread hours under New York law, failure to provide accurate wage statements, failure to provide wage notices and failure to pay weekly wages. 

June 16, 2020
Rodriguez v. Allen Distribution LP (Eastern District of California)
The plaintiff filed a wage and hour class action under the FLSA and California law alleging that he and members of a putative class are victims of pay increases that the defendant instituted to induce employees to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that he and the other employees were promised an additional $1 per hour for straight time, plus $2 per hour for all hours worked beyond eight in any day or 40 in any week, and an additional $2 an hour for any hour worked beyond 12 in any workday. The plaintiff alleges that these payments amount to shift differentials and that the defendant did not properly calculate the regular rate of pay reflecting these increases. The plaintiff asserts claims for failure to pay minimum wage, failure to pay overtime, failure to pay sick pay, failure to provide accurate wage statements, failure to reimburse business expenses and an unfair competition claim. 

June 15, 2020
Smith, et al. v. Local Cantina, LLC, et al. (Southern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff brings a class action lawsuit on behalf of all servers and bartenders at nine restaurants operated by the defendants. The plaintiff alleges that prior to May 2020, the defendants paid their tipped workers the minimum wage minus the maximum allowable tip credit. The plaintiff alleges that since May 2020, the defendants have retained 100 percent of the credit card tips received by tipped workers and have forced the tipped workers to share cash tips with other employees who are ineligible to participate in the tip pool. Further, the plaintiff alleges that since May 2020, the defendants have paid the tipped workers a set amount every week. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants have required the tipped workers to work more than forty hours per week, but have not paid the tipped workers overtime for these additional hours. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants’ new pay policy is designed to maximize the amount of money that may be treated as forgivable under a Paycheck Protection Program loan the defendants received due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that under the new policy, the tipped workers receive more money in the form of wages but are deprived of their tips, which are retained by the defendants, and that the defendants seek to compensate the employees using one hundred percent forgivable PPP loan money. The plaintiff brings claims for failure to pay minimum wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Ohio Constitution, failure to pay overtime wages under the FLSA and the Ohio Constitution, untimely payment of wages under Ohio law, and unjust enrichment.

June 2, 2020
Sparks et al. v. Janet Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, et al. (District of Maine)
The plaintiff brings this class action for declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of incarcerated prisoners employed in the community under a work release program. The plaintiff alleges that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the work release program “was brought to a halt in an effort to reduce non-essential contact between incarcerated individuals and the outside world and to reduce the possibility of COVID-19 spreading through Maine’s prisons.” The complaint alleges that prison officials encouraged the prisoners to seek unemployment benefits, and that 53 of them “were ultimately deemed eligible for unemployment benefits, including the standard state benefit and the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (‘PUA’) payment.” Despite the attorney general’s determination that the prisoners were entitled to unemployment compensation, the governor “found the distribution of unemployment benefits ‘appalling and to be bad public policy,’” and that “unemployment funds should be reserved for Mainers ‘struggling to pay for basic necessities.’” The complaint alleges that the prisoners’ unemployment payments have ceased, and that the Department of Corrections and its commissioner “have seized funds from the bank and phone accounts of Work Release Program participants in an effort to recoup the unemployment benefits those individuals received.” The complaint raises claims for violation of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment, and seeks a declaration that the cessation of unemployment payments and seizure of funds are unconstitutional, and an injunction compelling the return of the funds and the resumption of unemployment payments.

May 26, 2020
Lange v. 24-Hour Medical Staffing Services LLC (Orange County, California)
The plaintiff, a “traveling nurse,” filed a class action complaint against the defendant employer, a medical staffing company, asserting sundry violations of the California Labor Code as well as claims for unfair competition and unlawful business practices. The complaint alleges that the defendant violated the California Business and Professions Code not only by violating the California wage and hour law, but also by failing to provide protective equipment necessary for a safe workplace in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that although she worked directly with COVID-19 patients, the defendant employer did not provide her with appropriate PPE. The plaintiff alleges that after she complained, the defendant employer did not renew her contract. While the factual allegations consist largely of general COVID-19 facts and statistics, the claims alleged are primarily California wage and hour violations, including failure to pay overtime wages, failure to provide meal and rest breaks, failure to provide accurate wage statements, and failure to pay wages owed at termination. 

May 19, 2020 
Sean Almeida v. Heated Details, Inc., Adrianna Lower Stephenson, Thomas Stephenson, and Chris Mika (State of Washington Superior Court)
The plaintiff pleads the defendants’ “willful refusal to pay him his wages and other compensation due under Washington and wage theft law” and his “wrongful discharge in violation of public policy.” Early in his employment, the plaintiff reportedly “was required to purchase certain products in order to perform the duties Heated Details required him to perform,” but was denied reimbursement then and on a continual basis. The plaintiff claims that the defendants “routinely failed to provide Plaintiff with a paystub or other basic payroll information,” and repeatedly failed to timely pay him wages owed, citing “cash-flow problems.” The plaintiff claims that, in mid-March 2020, he was notified that the defendants would not timely pay compensation owed, and that he should “seek unemployment benefits as per Washington State’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.” The plaintiff reportedly took the position that the alleged wage nonpayment “preceded the outbreak and that applying for unemployment based on COVID-19 did not seem appropriate.” The plaintiff claims that in a conversation with his employer’s owner she indicated that she did not know when wages allegedly due would be paid, and that she did not commit to reimbursing him for allegedly due “unreimbursed business expenses.” According to the plaintiff, the defendants then threatened him with litigation when he sought unemployment benefits related to a COVID-19 layoff and closure. The plaintiff seeks allegedly due wages, exemplary damages, attorney fees, and other damages.

May 13, 2020
Kenneth England, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, v. United Airlines Inc. (Northern District of Illinois)
In this putative class-based contract action, the plaintiff, a shift manager at the company’s hub at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, claims that in exchange for federal paycheck protection funds, the airline agreed “it would not require any employee to take a temporary suspension or unpaid leave for any reason, it would not reduce the pay rate of any employee earning a salary or wages, and it would not reduce the benefits of any employee, until September 30, 2020.” Per plaintiff, two weeks after signing the agreement to receive PPP funds, the airline advised management and administration employees that they need to take 20 unpaid days off under the airline’s Unpaid Time Off Program, between May 16, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2020. The plaintiff asserts that the airline communicated via electronic mail that the CARES Act assistance “only covers a part of [the airline’s] payroll costs.” The plaintiff seeks compensatory and other damages for himself and the putative class, costs, interest, and attorney and expert fees.

May 7, 2020
Evans, et al. v. Dart, et al. (Northern District of Illinois)
Plaintiffs, correctional officers working for Cook County, Illinois, assert a hybrid class and collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA). Plaintiffs allege that the county failed to pay them regular or overtime wages for the time they spent at the beginning and end of their shifts sanitizing themselves, their uniforms, and their personal protective equipment, all of which was required in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiffs allege that these activities, which were uncompensated, took approximately 20-30 minutes each shift. 

May 5, 2020
McGhee v. Postmates Inc. (San Francisco County, California)
Corbin v. DoorDash, Inc.
(San Francisco County, California)
Class action complaints brought by the same attorneys on behalf of all gig economy workers working for defendants in the state of California, alleging that defendant violated California AB 5 by misclassifying gig economy workers as independent contractors. The complaints allege that the plaintiffs and putative class members were therefore denied, among other things, reimbursement for expenses (including masks and hand sanitizer), and denied payment for all time worked (including time spent procuring masks and hand sanitizer). These virtually identical class action complaints allege in great detail the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the nature of California’s response, as well as the safety guidelines issued by the state and federal agencies. The complaints go on to allege that the defendants failed to protect these gig economy workers by failing to mandate safe practices in light of COVID-19. As a result, in addition to wage and hour California class action claims derived from defendants’ response to COVID-19, each complaint also asserts class claims for public nuisance. 

April 24, 2020
Ferrante v. Ratner Companies (Broward County Circuit Court) (See related case, Olsen v. Ratner Companies dba Hair Cuttery, et al.)
Class action complaint alleging that hair salons ceased operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the closing occurred during a pay period. The plaintiffs allege that they were not paid for hours already worked during the pay period prior to the salons closing. 

April 23, 2020
Mabry v. Texas South Operating Company Inc. and Michael J Maye (Harris County District Court)
Plaintiff alleges a variety of claims under the Texas Labor Code and Texas common law related to failure to pay for work performed prior to being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiff claims she is owed approximately $70,000 for work done prior to her layoff.

April 21, 2020
Hand v. Carolina Scales, Inc. (Lexington County, South Carolina)
Plaintiff alleges that her employer failed to pay regular, overtime, and sick time wages owed to her under the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)). Plaintiff asserts that her employer refused to allow her to return to work because she was infected with what her doctors believe is COVID-19, and she cannot obtain a test demonstrating that she is no longer infected. As a result, she states that she has been constructively terminated and is owed back wages for overtime previously worked, as well as for the time she was required to self-quarantine. 

April 16, 2020
Carcamo v. CMC Contractors, LLC (Miami-Dade County Circuit Court)
Plaintiff alleges that he has not been given termination pay to which he is entitled under an employment contract. Plaintiff alleges that he was first told he was being terminated “due to limited work during the [COVID-19 pandemic],” but that his employer later claimed he had been terminated for cause. Plaintiff alleges that the employer provided false reasons for his termination, and that the reasons given to not meet the employment contract’s definition of “cause.”

April 7, 2020
Olsen v. Ratner Companies dba Hair Cuttery, et al. (District of New Jersey)
Class action complaint alleging that hair salons ceased operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the closing occurred during a pay period. The plaintiffs allege that they were not paid for hours already worked during the pay period prior to the salons closing. 

Family and Medical Leave Act

September 4, 2020
Rosario v. Barclay Brand Corporation, et al. (Middlesex County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff was a service administrator for the defendant. She alleges that in March 2020, she had a conversation with her supervisor and manager during which she explained that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, she anticipated having child care issues and would likely need to apply for FMLA leave. She further alleges that on March 27, she took a vacation day and while on vacation, her supervisor texted her and asked if she planned on taking FMLA leave. The plaintiff alleges that she did not respond to the text message but returned to work the following day. The plaintiff alleges that she was terminated the next day. She claims that the person who terminated her told her that it was better for the plaintiff to collect unemployment than to take FMLA leave. The plaintiff brings claims for wrongful termination, violation of the FMLA, and a request for equitable relief.

August 28, 2020
Reynoso v. CHS Acquisition Corp. (Northern District of Illinois)
The plaintiff was a machine operator and maintenance worker for the defendant. He alleges that around May 13, he left work after informing his foreman that he was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. He claims that he tested positive for COVID-19 and was diagnosed with COVID-19-related viral pneumonia. He alleges that he was hospitalized and in critical condition for two weeks, and that the defendant was aware that he was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, but made no effort to contact him while he was in the hospital. He also alleges that he did not have his cell phone with him in the hospital, and could therefore not contact the defendant to inform them of his condition. The plaintiff alleges that five days into his hospitalization, the defendant terminated his employment and immediately cut off his health insurance benefits. The plaintiff claims that after he was released from the hospital, he informed the defendant that he had been hospitalized for two weeks and provided the defendant with documentation showing that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He alleges that the defendant then asked him for documentation of his hospital stay. He claims that it took several days to obtain the paperwork from the hospital, and that before he could provide it to the company, he received a letter stating that the company’s position regarding his termination was affirmed. He brings claims for violation of the EPSLA and the FFCRA and failure to pay final compensation.

August 26, 2020
Hardy v. Stemco Products, Inc. (Eastern District of Tennessee) 
The plaintiff, a spin line operator, alleges that his employment was terminated in violation of the FMLA after he tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that he began to feel ill at work and visited the emergency room that same night. The plaintiff alleges that after testing positive for COVID-19, he immediately informed the defendant and the defendant instructed him to quarantine for two weeks. The plaintiff claims that about a week later, he was terminated for failing to report his medical condition in a timely manner. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant interfered with his rights under the FMLA, and retaliated against him by terminating his employment after taking a leave for his medical condition. 

August 21, 2020
Madoo v. Loomis Armored US, LLC (Orange County, Florida)
The plaintiff, an employee of a cash distribution service, alleges violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, as “temporarily modified” by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the Florida Coercion Statute. The plaintiff alleges that he was sent for work to Miami-Dade County, which he describes as “the epicenter of the COVID-19 Florida outbreak,” and there contracted COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that he needed to be quarantined for 14 days, and that his employer reduced both his hours and his pay, and refused to pay him for 80 hours of benefits, allegedly in violation of the FMLA and FFCRA. The plaintiff alleges that when he hired an attorney to pursue a workers’ compensation claim and his employer became aware of his claim, his employer terminated his employment, in violation of Florida’s Coercion Statute. The plaintiff seeks an unspecified amount of damages for back pay, pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest, compensatory, consequential, and emotional damages, and an award of attorneys’ fees.

August 20, 2020
Morrison v. White Sands Treatment Center of Tampa, LLC (Middle District of Florida)
The plaintiff worked as a housekeeper at a substance abuse treatment center. She alleges that she became ill with an upper-respiratory infection after cleaning a patient’s room. The plaintiff claims that when she returned to work, the defendant asked her to work a different schedule, which she was unable to do because her children were out of school due to closings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims that she was entitled to leave under the FMLA, but that instead of providing her with leave, the defendant terminated her in retaliation for her inability to work the new schedule. She brings causes of action for retaliation and interference under the FMLA.

August 19, 2020
Pamela Smoot v. Three-C Body Shops, Inc. (Southern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff, a customer service representative, claims violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and Ohio law, in connection with her termination. The plaintiff alleges that in April 2020, she applied for FMLA leave due to her serious medical condition and disability, COPD. Specifically, the plaintiff requires a nebulizer when she is sick, and unable to perform her job duties when she suffers a flare up of shortness of breath and coughing. The plaintiff alleges that her medical provider provided FMLA certification indicating that the plaintiff needed to be off work from March 15 through May 4, and recommended the use of intermittent FMLA leave up to one day per week through Nov. 4, due to her COPD. Additionally, the medical provider requested that the plaintiff be able to work from home through July 1 to reduce the risk of death through contracting COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that her employer denied her FMLA leave as requested, and was told she had a “bad attitude” and was “disrespectful.” The plaintiff was subsequently terminated on May 12 without a provided reason, but claims her termination was in retaliation for requesting FMLA leave. 

August 19, 2020
Soto Guevara v. Gargiulo, Inc. (Middle District of Florida)
The plaintiff, an employee of a produce wholesaler, alleges that her employer denied her paid emergency sick leave and paid extended family medical leave to provide childcare to her children due to COVID-19 related school closures. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant refused to allow her to provide sufficient information regarding her entitlement to paid leave, including the identification of her children requiring care, and retaliated against her by unlawfully terminating her employment after she requested leave. The plaintiff seeks reinstatement of her employment, payment of her wages as required under the EPSLA and EFMLEA, unspecified compensatory, liquidated and emotional distress damages, and an award of attorneys’ fees.

August 17, 2020
Idahor v. Arbor East Cobb, LLC (Northern District of Georgia)
The plaintiff, a certified nursing assistant, informed the defendant, an operator of senior living facilities, that she was getting a COVID-19 test because she had been in contact with person who had tested positive for COVID-19. The defendant responded that the plaintiff must come to work. Two days later, the plaintiff’s supervisor and another employee told the plaintiff that she would not be paid, that she was at low risk for the virus, that she needed to return to work because the defendant was short staffed, and that she should be fine if she wore a mask and gloves. The next day, the plaintiff informed the defendant that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and needed to self-quarantine. Five days later, the defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment. The plaintiff sued under the FMLA for interference and retaliation. 

Woodward, et al. v. Vancuren Services, Inc., et al. (Northern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff, an hourly tree care technician, alleges that he was denied leave in violation of the FFCRA. The plaintiff alleges that on March 14, 2020, the Ohio Department of Health issued an order closing all Ohio schools due to COVID-19. As such, the plaintiff claims that his child’s school was closed, which created a bona fide need for the plaintiff “to care for his child for two weeks in response to school closures.” The plaintiff informed his employer that he needed two weeks of leave to care for his child, and his employer granted the request. The plaintiff alleges that while on leave, he “came into contact with an individual that was later diagnosed with COVID-19.” The complaint alleges that the plaintiff’s doctor advised him to quarantine at home for 14 days. The plaintiff then provided notice to his employer that he would need two weeks to quarantine at home, and the employer granted that request. Although the plaintiff’s employer granted his leave, his employer told the plaintiff “that they were not required to pay [the plaintiff for his leave] under the regulations.” The plaintiff alleges that his employer “interfered with [the plaintiff’s] FFCRA rights by:” (1) “failing to compensate [him] at two-thirds of his regular rate of pay for his FFCRA-qualifying leave related to his child being out of school;” and (2) “failing to compensate [him] at his regular rate of pay for his FFCRA-qualifying leave related to his doctor’s order to self-quarantine.” 

August 14, 2020
Saunders v. Gala North America, Inc. (Western District of Virginia)
The plaintiff, an employee of a candle manufacturer, alleges violation of the FMLA as “temporarily modified” by the FFCRA, when his employer terminated his employment for reporting that both the plaintiff and his fiancé had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and medically instructed to quarantine for 14 days. The plaintiff alleges that in terminating the plaintiff’s employment, his employer denied him 80 hours of paid sick leave under the FFCRA, retaliated against him for reporting his diagnosis, and failed to inform employees of their rights under the FFCRA. The plaintiff seeks an award in excess of $200,000 plus reasonable attorneys’ fees, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, reinstatement to his employment, and mandatory training for his employer’s management. 

August 11, 2020
Milman v. Fieger & Fieger PC, et al. (Eastern District of Michigan)
The plaintiff, an attorney, filed a two-count complaint against the defendant law firm and its owner after she requested to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and was subsequently terminated. On March 14 and 15, 2020, the plaintiff emailed her supervisor asking to work from home on March 16 and 17, informing him that her son’s daycare facility had been closed due to COVID-19 and that her son had a respiratory infection which she believed made him vulnerable to COVID-19. The supervisor denied the plaintiff’s request to work from home but granted her request for PTO instead. On March 17, the supervisor asked if the plaintiff intended to return to work on March 19. The plaintiff explained to her supervisor that she planned to return to work, but her son’s daycare center remained closed, she had no other childcare available, and her son was now experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The plaintiff also contacted human resources to request that she be moved to a more secluded workspace upon her return. In the meantime, on March 18, Congress passed the FFCRA and the EPSLA, which provide various types of paid leave to workers impacted by COVID-19.  On March 19, the plaintiff contacted human resources and requested to continue working from home for the rest of the week ending on March 20, because her son’s symptoms had not improved and she had concerns about working in the office. Human resources approved the request. Nevertheless, the plaintiff received a letter that day terminating her employment. The plaintiff alleges her termination violates the FMLA, as well as public policy evidenced in executive orders, the FFCRA and the EPSLA.

Amy L. Ison v. Amedisys Holding, LLC (Southern District of Indiana)
The plaintiff, a home health care nurse, claims her employer interfered with her right to use FMLA leave and failed to pay her for overtime. After the plaintiff developed symptoms of COVID-19, she made an appointment with her healthcare provider to be tested and informed her supervisor, who instructed the plaintiff to quarantine. The plaintiff alleges that she complied with this directive and provided certification clearing her to return to work after the quarantine. The plaintiff also claims that on the day she was released to return to work, she met with her employer, who informed her that she was terminated because she purportedly “didn’t follow protocol” for reporting COVID-19 symptoms and accused the plaintiff of not informing anyone of her symptoms. According to the plaintiff, “[b]oth of these accusations were lies.” The plaintiff alleges the employer’s proffered reason for her termination was pretext for FMLA interference, as evidenced by her employer’s intent to deny her paid leave for the period she was instructed to quarantine. According to the plaintiff, the director of operations explained that she would not be paid for the time during which she was instructed to quarantine because the plaintiff “did not have COVID-19.” Unrelated to her claims regarding COVID-19, the plaintiff also alleges that the defendant failed to pay her at the FLSA overtime rate for overtime hours worked during her employment, including time spent traveling during her work day, time spent in patient visits, time spent in meetings and training, and time spent completing records and patient documentation. As a result of the unpaid overtime wages, the plaintiff claims violations of the FLSA and Indiana’s Wage Claims Statute. 

August 5, 2020
Clemente Cimmino v. Italian Village Pizzeria, et al. (Union County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff claims he was not allowed to return to work at the defendant pizzeria after taking time off to quarantine after COVID-19 exposure that allegedly occurred because the defendants did not provide proper protection to workers. In March, the defendant manager allegedly came into the pizzeria while exhibiting flu-like symptoms. Thereafter, other employees developed similar symptoms and continued to work. During this time, the plaintiff feared contamination and requested a mask, which was not provided. The plaintiff claims that in early April he asked his supervisor to be allowed to quarantine for 14 days, which was granted, but that despite the FFCRA, he was not paid for this time off. When he returned to work, a plastic barrier had been installed at the main counter, and some employees wore masks that employees had purchased. The plaintiff learned that two employees had tested positive for COVID-19, and that another had to take time off to care for her nephew who tested positive. One of the employees who tested positive died on April 17. The pizzeria was shut down for a day. On April 17, the plaintiff requested time off to “quarantine himself from his family since he feared that he had come in contact with employees who either tested positive for COVID-19 or were caregivers for persons who had tested positive for COVID-19.” This request was granted, but the plaintiff alleges that he was not paid for the time off. Starting May 9, the plaintiff asked to return to work but was told that the location had a full staff. The plaintiff makes a range of claims, including retaliation in violation of the New Jersey Law Conscientious Employee Protection Act, intentional conduct related to PPE, and violation of the FFCRA. 

Sanchez-Martinez v. Bandera Family Health Care, P.A. (Western District of Texas)
The plaintiff was a patient coordinator for the defendant. The plaintiff alleges that around April 2, 2020, she had a fever and her manager instructed her to go home and get tested for COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that she tested positive for the virus. She alleges that on May 11, she received a telephone call from the defendant’s executive assistant asking the plaintiff if she could return to work the next day. The plaintiff alleges that she informed the executive assistant that she was still positive for the virus, and could not return. The plaintiff claims that the executive assistant offered to put the plaintiff in a separate room to work, but the plaintiff claims that she informed the executive assistant that she could not return, as she was still under medical care for COVID-19 and was too anxious to see patients. The plaintiff alleges that the executive assistant instructed her to seek counseling with a practitioner employed by the defendant to discuss her anxiety, and that she saw the practitioner, who diagnosed her with acute stress disorder. The plaintiff claims that around June 8, despite not being ready to see patients due to her anxiety, she was forced to return to work. The plaintiff contends that on July 7, she saw a doctor and obtained FMLA paperwork due to her anxiety, which she returned to the defendant’s human resources department. The plaintiff alleges that on July 14, she was terminated “because of [her] anxiety.” The plaintiff brings one cause of action for unlawful interference and retaliation under the FMLA.

August 3, 2020 
Romero v. Accurate Painting of Northwest Florida, Inc. (Northern District of Florida)
The plaintiff worked as a painter for the defendant, a construction contractor. On June 11, 2020, at the defendant’s instruction, the plaintiff and her crew took a COVID-19 test. The plaintiff, who contends she had not been feeling well two days before she took the COVID-19 test, did not return to work after the test, because her symptoms worsened. On June 14, the plaintiff alleges she was informed she had tested positive for COVID-19, was instructed to continue to self-quarantine, and claims she was “prescribed some over the counter medications.” The plaintiff then notified her direct supervisor about her positive COVID-19 test. The supervisor told the plaintiff she could return to work on June 29, after her self-quarantine period ended and she had recovered. On June 19, however, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant notified her it “was not going to pay Plaintiff anything because she brought the COVID-19 to the company,” and, further, it was firing her. The plaintiff sued for violations of the FFCRA and FMLA, alleging, among other claims, that her employer should have granted her at least 80 hours of paid sick time when she was ill, and interfered with her FMLA leave by firing her.

July 31, 2020
Dung Ly v. Americold Logistics, LLC (Middle District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff sued his employer, the defendant, for its alleged violations of the FMLA. The plaintiff continued to report to work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as the defendant was an “essential business” under the Governor of Pennsylvania’s “shelter in place order.” The plaintiff’s minor child suffered from an underlying condition making him susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, and the child was ordered to self-quarantine. The plaintiff informed the defendant about his child’s quarantine order and requested FMLA leave. Without explanation, the defendant allegedly approved only about half of the continuous period of FMLA leave requested by the plaintiff. The defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment when he did not report to work on those days on which he applied for FMLA leave, but for which the leave was not approved. The plaintiff sued the defendant for its alleged failure to grant FMLA leave to care for his minor child who had been ordered to quarantine.

Pacitti v. Ricciardi Brothers Old City, Inc. (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, a former delivery driver for the defendant, alleges that he was constructively discharged in violation of the FMLA and FFCRA. The plaintiff, a father of four young children, requested and received extended leave under the FFCRA due to the closure of Pennsylvania schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly before his return to work, the plaintiff reached out to his manager, who advised him that his former delivery route had been given to another driver while the plaintiff was on leave. The manager further advised the plaintiff that the only route available was several hours drive from the plaintiff’s home. The plaintiff alleges that he advised the defendant that due to his child care obligations, he could not travel that far to work, and that he thought his job was protected while he was on leave. The defendant allegedly told the plaintiff that the new route was the same as his old route, and was the closest open route available. The plaintiff alleges that he reiterated that he could not travel such a distance, and that as a result, he interpreted his employment to be at an end. Based upon these allegations, the plaintiff alleges claims for constructive termination, as well as interference and retaliation under the FFCRA and FMLA.

July 30, 2020
Castill v. JAC Products, Inc. (Northern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff, a forklift operator, filed a single-count complaint claiming that the defendant violated the FMLA by refusing to reinstate him and by terminating his employment for exercising his FMLA rights. According to the plaintiff, he suffered a stroke in late January 2020 and went on medical leave prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 16, the plaintiff informed the defendant that he had been medically cleared to return to work with no restrictions. At that point, the defendant told the plaintiff that the plant was on shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the defendant would let him know when he could return to work. On March 17, the plaintiff received FMLA paperwork from the defendant, and he was instructed to turn in the completed FMLA paperwork when he returned to work after the COVID-19 shutdown. According to the plaintiff, he continued to communicate with the defendant, including a letter to the defendant substantiating that he had been cleared to return to work. On May 21, the defendant informed the plaintiff that it had given his position to another employee, falsely claiming that the plaintiff had not notified the defendant that he had been medically cleared to return to work. That day, the plaintiff claims he submitted a second return to work letter to the defendant and left several voicemails for HR, but received no response. On May 27, the defendant informed the plaintiff that they deemed him to have quit his employment, and were terminating him effective May 21.

Elyse Hawthorne v. James River Petroleum Inc. (Eastern District of Virginia)
In March 2020, the schools attended by the plaintiff’s children closed due to COVID-19. She requested to work from home, which the defendant denied. The plaintiff claims that in late March, information regarding the FFCRA was distributed by human resources, and that she expressed interest in leave and requested a referenced leave form. The plaintiff says that she submitted a completed FFCRA form on April 1, after which she was “aggressively questioned,” told that remote work was not an option, and led to believe that her job would be in jeopardy if she took the leave. After considering management’s request, the plaintiff submitted the FFCRA leave request form again, requesting leave beginning April 6 and ending June 10. The plaintiff claims that her employer expressed frustration with this request and that she agreed to move back the start of her leave a week. Before the plaintiff started her leave, the company issued a newly revised outside employment policy, purportedly to target the plaintiff and her prevent her from supplementing her leave-reduced pay with outside employment during evenings or weekends. During a meeting on Sunday, April 12, ostensibly to address transition items, the human resources manager, advised the plaintiff to “look [for another job] while out [on leave],” suggested that her job was in jeopardy, and asked the plaintiff to remove her personal items from her office and return her keys. In early May, the defendant’s human resources raised issues about the plaintiff’s work performance. On May 22, while still on leave, the plaintiff received an emailed termination letter. The plaintiff claims violation of her job-protected FMLA/EFMLEA leave, retaliation for her use of job-protected FMLA/EFMLEA leave, and opposition to practices made unlawful by the FMLA/EFMLEA. 

July 29, 2020
Siam v. Promise Care NJ, LLC (Hudson County, New Jersey)
In early April 2020, the defendant told its employees, including the plaintiff, to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In early May, the defendant advised all employees that they would be returning to the office on May 18. Because the plaintiff’s son’s school had closed, the plaintiff inquired about options for working parents with children at home due to schools being closed. The defendant allegedly replied that it expected the plaintiff, and all other employees, to be back at the office as of May 18. On May 18, the plaintiff emailed her manager and told her she could not come in to work that day because, as she had said before, her son’s school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and she did not have alternative care arrangements. The defendant allegedly responded to the plaintiff’s email with a termination letter. The plaintiff sued under the FFCRA and for a violation of New Jersey public policy for the defendant’s alleged failure to provide leave for child care purposes.

July 28, 2020
Simoneau v. MDT-TT, LLC (District of Rhode Island)
The plaintiff was working as a sales manager for the defendant when she began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19. When the plaintiff’s symptoms worsened, she visited her physician, who advised her that there was a shortage of COVID-19 tests, and that she should self-quarantine for 14 days. The plaintiff and her physician both notified the defendant of the self-quarantine order. One of the plaintiff’s managers allegedly told the plaintiff she “probably [had] a cold.” While the plaintiff was in self-quarantine, she alleges she continued to work from home. One day, after the defendant denied the plaintiff access to its website, the plaintiff contacted the defendant, who allegedly informed her that: (i) it had terminated her employment, (ii) employees who worked 12-hour days while she was in self-quarantine had priority vis-à-vis retaining their jobs; (iii) “no employees have rights during this pandemic”; and (iv) she “probably only had a cold.” When the plaintiff contacted the defendant’s HR department to ask why it had not protected her job while she was on medical leave, the representative purportedly responded that the defendant had laid off employees who were on workers’ compensation and family and medical leaves. The plaintiff sued for violations of the federal FMLA and its Rhode Island state-law corollary. 

Martinez v. Aspen Dental Management, Inc. (Middle District of Florida)
The plaintiff, an office manager, filed a four-count complaint alleging that the defendant interfered with her rights under the FMLA and the Expanded FMLA, and that it terminated her employment for exercising her rights. The plaintiff alleges that after she lost her access to childcare services due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she asked to work from home on May 26, 2020. According to the plaintiff, her children also became ill at that time and were tested for COVID-19, which required the plaintiff to be absent from work for three consecutive days. The plaintiff’s request to work from home was denied, and the plaintiff alleges that she was told by her supervisor that if she could not report to work due to her childcare obligations, she would no longer have a job. The plaintiff complained to HR, but alleges that she was ordered to return to work, which she did on June 2. Upon her return, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant issued her a final written warning. When the plaintiff objected to the written warning, she was fired. The plaintiff claims that if the defendant believed that she was ineligible for FMLA-qualifying leave, it was required to provide her with a designation notice, letting her know (within five business days after it had sufficient information to decide if her leave was FMLA-qualifying) whether her FMLA leave was approved. The plaintiff claims the defendant failed to do so, and instead interfered with her rights and retaliated against her, even though the defendant knew, or should have known, that she was exercising her rights under the FMLA. 

Staples-Reynolds v. Gills Gibson, Inc. (Middle District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, who has asthma, got tested for COVID-19 after his roommate’s co-worker tested positive for COVID-19. During his testing appointment, the plaintiff’s medical provider instructed him to self-quarantine for two weeks. The plaintiff, who worked in food service, notified the defendant of the quarantine order. According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s general manager responded, “You are faking it. If you take time off, you will be fired.” When the plaintiff explained that he was going to follow his healthcare provider’s advice, the defendant terminated his employment immediately. The next day, the plaintiff submitted a note from the healthcare provider confirming she had (i) tested him for COVID-19 because of possible exposure to the virus and (ii) instructed him to self-quarantine for two weeks. According to the plaintiff, the defendant took no action in response to receiving the healthcare provider’s note. The plaintiff brings claims under the FMLA (as amended by the FFCRA) and the EFMLEA. The plaintiff asserts, among other things, that the defendant refused to grant him medical leave for a qualifying event (a self-quarantine directive), failed to provide him with FFCRA-mandated paid sick leave, and unlawfully discharged him. 

July 23, 2020
Clark v. Lexington Family Dental Care, PA (Lexington County, South Carolina)
The plaintiff was a dental assistant for a dental care company. She alleges that she has two children who were unable to attend daycare due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She further alleges that she stopped working in the dental office on March 29, 2020, due to the pandemic, and that she received an email on April 16 stating that staff would not return until May 4. However, the plaintiff claims that on April 19, she received an email from the owner stating that the company had been approved for a PPP loan, the terms of which required staff to return to work the following day. The plaintiff claims that she called the owner and told her that she could not come in on 24 hours’ notice because she could not arrange childcare that quickly. The plaintiff alleges that the owner told her she understood. However, the plaintiff claims that the next day, the owner called her and said that if she did not return the following day, the company would consider it to be a resignation and the owner would make sure the plaintiff did not receive unemployment. The plaintiff claims she told the owner that she was not resigning but needed a chance to arrange childcare. The plaintiff alleges that the owner texted her and stated that they needed a certain number of people on the payroll for the PPP loan, so if the plaintiff did not come in, they would replace her. The plaintiff claims that she then received a text message from the owner stating that based upon her childcare issues, they were replacing her. The plaintiff brings a cause of action for FMLA interference, FMLA retaliation, violation of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), defamation, and promissory estoppel.

Sprague v. Ed’s Precision Manufacturing, LLC (Southern District of Texas)
The plaintiff alleges that he was terminated for taking EMFLEA leave. The plaintiff claims that he requested time off to care for his children, who were unable to attend school due to a COVID-19 related closure. He alleges that his employer rejected the request, and “expressed a negative attitude about [the plaintiff] making such a request.” The plaintiff’s wife emailed the plaintiff’s employer explaining that he was “entitled to leave to help care for their young children.” As a result, the plaintiff alleges that the employer “relented, but was obviously frustrated by the request.” The plaintiff was permitted to receive time off each week to care for his children “for a short period of time.” The plaintiff claims that he was subsequently terminated for allegedly leaving work an hour early, but asserts that the real reason he was terminated was for exercising his rights under the EMFLEA. The plaintiff seeks back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs, interest, and attorney fees.

July 17, 2020
Beatty v. Hamilton Operator LLC, et al. (Mercer County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a dietary aide/cook for a nursing home, brings claims under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA). The plaintiff alleges that he began experiencing a fever in excess of 102 degrees. The defendants advised the plaintiff that he should stay home and contact his primary care doctor. A day after the plaintiff was notified regarding his negative COVID-19 test result, the plaintiff shared the result with the defendants. The defendants informed the plaintiff that they were terminating the plaintiff’s employment because it “took too long” to obtain the COVID-19 test result. The plaintiff alleges that his taking leave constituted “protected conduct” under the ESLL, EFMLEA, and the EPSLA, and  the plaintiff further alleges that the defendants were liable to the plaintiff for discriminating against him “for the perception of disability” under New Jersey law. 

July 13, 2020
Rivas v. Phillips Precision Medicraft (District of New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a finisher for a medical device manufacturer, alleges that the defendant interfered with his rights under the FMLA. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant denied his request to take leave in order to care for his school-aged daughter, whose school had been closed due to COVID-19, and that he was furloughed instead. The plaintiff was told that he did not need to take FMLA leave because the defendant “would place any employee who could not work due to COVID-19 on furlough.” The defendant confirmed that the plaintiff would be furloughed effective March 31, 2020. On April 16, the defendant asked the plaintiff whether he was able to return to work, but the plaintiff informed the defendant that his daughter’s preschool was still closed. The defendant told the plaintiff that “if he could not return to work, [d]efendant would fire him.” After requesting leave, the plaintiff sent the defendant the FFCRA poster outlining employees’ rights. The plaintiff again inquired about his right to take FFCRA-protected leave, but was told that he was not entitled to leave because his “position was eliminated” prior to the FFCRA’s expansion of the FMLA. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant retaliated against him by firing him for “requesting and/or taking FFCRA-qualifying leave.” 

July 8, 2020
Lopez v. Refocus Eye Health of PA, P.C. (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 on May 14, 2020. She called and informed her employer that she would be unable to work that day, due to her symptoms. That same day, she visited her doctor, who scheduled a COVID-19 test for her on May 19 and ordered her to self-quarantine at least until her test results came back. The plaintiff promptly informed the defendant that she had been ordered to self-quarantine until her test results came back. The plaintiff’s test results came in on May 26, and showed that she did not have COVID-19. However, the plaintiff continued to experience symptoms, and her doctor, fearing a false negative test, ordered another test and ordered the plaintiff to continue to self-quarantine until the second test’s results were determined. The plaintiff’s second COVID-19 test was delayed several times, and was not scheduled until June 16. However, the defendant told the plaintiff that she would be terminated if she did not return to work by June 15. The plaintiff claims she was unable to return to work on June 15 due to her alleged continuing symptoms, and her inability to be tested for COVID-19 a second time prior to that date. The defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment. The plaintiff sued the defendant for FMLA interference for demanding that she return to work prior to the end of her alleged protected leave. Additionally, the plaintiff brings a claim under the FFCRA for the defendant’s alleged failure to provide her with paid leave while she was away from work experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Wilson v. KMH Dining Group
(Northern District of Georgia)
The plaintiff, a general manager, alleges violations of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA). The plaintiff claims that he began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and was told by his doctor to quarantine and not to report to work. The plaintiff alleges that when he told his supervisor his doctor recommended that he self-quarantine, the plaintiff’s supervisor stated that “it sounds fishy” and asked if the plaintiff felt or looked sick. Two days later, the plaintiff was terminated, and was told that the company would hire someone “who wanted to work.” The plaintiff alleges that “[i]n terminating [the plaintiff’s] employment, denying him paid leave, and failing to restore him to his position, [the employer] interfered with [the plaintiff’s] rights protected under” the EFMLEA and EPSLA.

July 6, 2020
Haisley v. Grant-Blackford Mental Health Inc. (Grant County, Indiana)
The plaintiff alleges that her employer refused to provide her with leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  She claims that in April 2020, she requested to telework so that she could care for her child whose school was closed due to COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that her employer denied her request to work remotely. The plaintiff alleges that she was subsequently terminated because “she was unable to work because she was caring for her child whose school or place of care was closed…due to COVID-19 related reasons.” The plaintiff seeks: her lost wages, liquidated damages, reinstatement to her position, and costs and attorney’s fees.

June 25, 2020
Southern v. Madison County Nursing Home, et al. (Hinds County, Mississippi) 
The plaintiff, a bookkeeper for a public nursing home, claims that the defendants interfered with her rights under the FMLA. The plaintiff claims that she had difficulty securing childcare after daycare and school closures due to COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that she was denied her request to work from home, so she took time off from work to care for her children. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants unlawfully interfered with her “employment agreement by terminating her just days before the FFCRA went into place.” The plaintiff claims that her employment was terminated due to her need for FMLA leave, and that the purported reason for terminating her – lack of Excel skills – was a pretext.

June 19, 2020
Brown v. Township of Irvington (District of New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a clerk-typist in the township’s tax department, alleges that he was denied two weeks of paid emergency sick leave he was entitled to under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The plaintiff alleges that the township’s tax department was considered “essential,” and was permitted to continue to operate following New Jersey’s statewide stay-at-home order. The plaintiff alleges that employees in the tax department were exposed to COVID-19 and the disease began to spread among those in the tax department. As a result, the plaintiff alleges that he began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and sought treatment from his family physician, who recommended that the plaintiff receive treatment for COVID-19 and be excused from work. The plaintiff subsequently provided his employer with the doctor’s note excusing him from work, and requested two weeks paid medical leave under the FFCRA. The plaintiff alleges that he was told that he was not entitled to additional medical leave, because the employer already provided paid sick leave and vacation. When the plaintiff inquired again about taking medical leave under FFCRA, the defendant’s business administrator stated that the township did not need to provide paid FFCRA leave because it had more than 500 employees. The plaintiff responded by emailing the business administrator with information that the 500 employee exception did not apply to public employers, like the township, and requested his paid FFCRA leave. The plaintiff never received a response to his email requesting medical leave.

June 18, 2020
Lopez v. Fieldale Farms Corp. (Northern District of Georgia)
The plaintiff, a maintenance worker, filed a two-count complaint alleging that the defendant interfered with his rights under the FMLA by terminating him and failing to provide him FMLA leave. The plaintiff alleges that after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, he informed the defendant that he needed to miss work for two weeks. When the two weeks were up, the plaintiff told the defendant that he was experiencing respiratory issues and that he was told by his doctors that he should act as if the virus was still active. The plaintiff did not return to work at that time. Subsequently, the plaintiff returned to work and the defendant terminated him. 

Bowden v. Brinly-Hardy Company, Inc. (Western District of Kentucky)
The plaintiff was discharged while on a leave of absence for a potential COVID-19 diagnosis and self-isolation order. She sued her employer for violating the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The plaintiff asserts that, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, her employer implemented certain measures, including having some employees work remotely, and that she agreed to work from home because she has asthma and is high risk. The plaintiff then developed symptoms consistent with having COVID-19 and visited a physician. A week later, the plaintiff’s employer notified her that she could no longer work remotely and would need to return to the office. Two days later, the plaintiff’s symptoms worsened, and an ER physician advised that she might have COVID-19 and must self-isolate. The plaintiff notified her employer of her possible diagnosis, and her employer approved leave under the FFCRA, commencing April 9, 2020. When she began her leave, the plaintiff contacted her primary care physician, who advised her to self-isolate for seven days before visiting his office, and a week later, ordered a COVID-19 test (scheduled for April 22) and instructed the plaintiff to self-isolate for another week. The plaintiff notified her employer of the self-isolation order and upcoming COVID-19 test. In response, the employer provided the plaintiff with short term disability paperwork. Sometime during the week of April 22, the plaintiff told her employer she would return to work when her fever dissipated. A week later, the employer terminated plaintiff’s employment on the ground that her skills did not match the employer’s long-term needs. The plaintiff asserts that, in violation of the FFCRA, her employer’s true motivation was her COVID-19 symptoms and physician-directed self-isolation orders. Among other theories, the plaintiff also asserts that her employer violated the FMLA by not informing her of her FMLA rights. 

June 16, 2020
Barcalow v. Wellspring Lutheran Services (Eastern District of Michigan) 
The plaintiff, a senior living center employee, alleges FMLA interference and retaliation. She alleges she was terminated after using her approved FMLA leave following a positive COVID-19 test. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant terminated her employment “because she failed to come into work while she was on continuous FMLA leave.” She claims that her employment was terminated due to her COVID-19 diagnosis and in retaliation for using FMLA leave, and that the purported reason for the termination of her employment was a pretext.

June 15, 2020
Wells v. Haynes Ambulance of Alabama, Inc. (Middle District of Alabama) 
The plaintiff, a flight paramedic, brings his claims under the FMLA and the Expanded Family Medical Leave Act (EFMLA). The plaintiff claims that he was terminated for asking about the possibility of taking EFMLA to care for his children due to the school closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims he was told that the reason for his termination was that his questions about taking leave “‘ruffled feathers at the top’ and caused ‘animosity’ between employees and defendant’s management . . .” According to the plaintiff, the defendant terminated him in an effort to dissuade others from exercising their right to leave under the FMLA and the EFMLA. 

June 9, 2020
Kelley Nuttall v. Progressive Parma Care Center, LLC (Northern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff, an activity director, claims that her employer interfered with her rights under the FMLA. The plaintiff alleges that she began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms after being exposed to a patient who tested positive for COVID-19. She made an appointment with her physician, who diagnosed her with COVID-19 and recommended that she refrain from working until she recovered, requiring her to “miss at least 10 consecutive days of work.” After the plaintiff contacted her employer to inform them of the diagnosis and need for leave, and requested FMLA leave paperwork, she alleges that she received a text message from the executive director, effectively terminating her. The text message stated: “I understand that some leaders are going to step up and some leaders are going to step back. Wish you well.”

June 3, 2020
Thornberry v. Powell County Detention Center (Powell County, Kentucky)
The plaintiff, a substance abuse counselor for a detention center, alleges violations of the FMLA, FMLA retaliation, and wrongful discharge in violation of the Kentucky Whistleblower Act. The plaintiff alleges that she was instructed to stay home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but was instructed that she was expected to return to work on March 30, 2020. Prior to returning to work, the plaintiff alleges that she expressed concern to her supervisor “about whether sufficient measures had been implemented to prevent the spread of the disease within the Detention Center, indicating that she had been told by Detention Center personnel not to wear Personal Protective Equipment for fear of causing a panic within the Detention Center.” On March 31, 2020, the plaintiff communicated that “she was not coming in to work because she was not feeling well and running a fever and wanted to consult with her doctor,” and that “absent some reassurance from the Detention Center that sufficient measures were in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, she would not feel comfortable coming to work and ‘risk people [she] love[s] or [her]self dying.’” The plaintiff also alleges that she informed her employer that as a result of school and caretaker closures, she needed to care for her children and dependent brother-in-law. The plaintiff alleges she was fired “within hours of her refusal to return to work without proper safety measures in place,” and that she was fired for reporting violations of CDC recommendations to her supervisor. 

Winters v. Stone Transport Holding, Inc., et al. (Eastern District of Michigan)
The plaintiff worked as a breakdown coordinator for a trucking company, and his job consisted of answering phone calls from drivers who were experiencing issues on the road. The plaintiff claims that when he told his employer he was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, his employer told him that he could not return to work until he was tested and provided a doctor’s note clearing him to return. The plaintiff alleges that he had trouble obtaining a test, and that when he did, he was told that it would take several days before he received the results. The plaintiff alleges that he was terminated before his test results were issued and was told to “go ‘have a nice life.’” The plaintiff alleges that despite being fully able to perform his responsibilities from home and doing so while he was absent from the office, he was terminated because the defendants were “angry with the amount of time it took for the VA Hospital to return the results.” The plaintiff brings claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act, and violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

May 27, 2020
John Doe v. Dee Packaging Solutions, Inc., et al. (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, a printing press operator with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (“HIV”), alleges that the defendants terminated his employment after he made multiple attempts to contact the defendants’ human resources department and direct supervisor regarding his intention “to seek a medical diagnosis confirming [the plaintiff] should self-quarantine at home for his own protection on account of [the plaintiff’s] HIV-positive status.” The plaintiff’s supervisor sent the plaintiff a text message reading: “The company has remained open. Not reporting to work as you have done is abandoning your job. HR will be sending you the necessary paperwork.” The plaintiff alleges that the defendants failed to offer the plaintiff FMLA leave, that he was not allowed to use his accrued paid time off, and that he was not offered an accommodation. He claims that he was treated less favorably on the basis of his sexual orientation, and retaliated against because “he suffered from a condition that placed him at higher risk for serious or fatal consequences from COVID-19.” 

May 14, 2020
Rocco Benedetto v. Action Rentals of FLL, LLC, et al. (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff alleges FMLA interference and retaliation.  The plaintiff alleges that he “suffers from anatomic asplenia and functioning immunosuppression,” and that he reported to his employer that he was thus “at least ten (10) times more vulnerable than the average individual to contract” COVID-19. The complaint alleges that the plaintiff had a 103.4 degree fever, and provided his employer medical documentation advising him to quarantine for three to 14 days. The plaintiff asserts that two days after he sought to take medical leave, he was terminated. Plaintiff claims that the temporal proximity of his request and his termination creates the presumption that his employer retaliated against him for seeking to exercise his FMLA rights. 

May 8, 2020
Hockersmith v. Elmcroft by Eclipse Senior Living (Western District of Kentucky)
The plaintiff, a former area human resources director, alleges FMLA interference and retaliation claims, as well as disability discrimination under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. The plaintiff alleges that when she became sick with flu-like symptoms while conducting a sexual harassment investigation for defendant in mid-February 2020, her supervisor refused to allow her to take a sick day, instead demanding that she complete the investigation. After her symptoms worsened to include serious coughing and breathing issues, the plaintiff was advised by her doctor on March 13, 2020 to self-quarantine for seven days, which she did. Following a check-in call with her supervisor, during which the plaintiff coughed continuously, the plaintiff alleges her supervisor placed her on leave and locked her out of the company’s systems. The plaintiff says she then went back to her doctor on March 24, 2020, and notwithstanding the lack of available tests, her “doctor admitted that she most likely had COVID-19” and advised her to extend her self-quarantine period to 14 days. The plaintiff says she then requested FMLA leave, and that her supervisor did not respond to her request. After the plaintiff completed her period of self-quarantine, and attempted to return to work, the plaintiff was still unable to access any work-related programs. Later that day, the plaintiff says her supervisor terminated her employment, telling her (for the first time) that her performance was unsatisfactory.   

May 1, 2020
Angela M. Connor v. Professional Medical Billing, Inc. (Northern District of Indiana) 
Plaintiff seeks “damages under FMLA/FFCRA,” as well as “declaratory and injunctive relief.” Plaintiff alleges that her daughter’s school and daycare closed as a result of COVID-19 and that Plaintiff was forced to stay home with her child, whom Plaintiff also claims had serious health conditions. Plaintiff alleges that she notified her employer of the need for leave under FMLA/FFCRA, but did not receive the requested approval for paid leave. Plaintiff alleges, among other things, that she was asked to explain why she could not perform her billing duties remotely. According to Plaintiff, she could not “both work and watch her child at home.”

April 9, 2020
Ennin v. EFC Trade, Inc. (Southern District of Ohio)
Plaintiff alleges FMLA retaliation and interference. Plaintiff, a financial aid officer, was informed that she was being furloughed in connection with COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that she was actually furloughed in retaliation for taking FMLA leave, and that the defendant interfered with her right to reinstatement by failing to reinstate her to her same or a substantially similar position upon her return from FMLA-protected leave.

Misclassification

May 29, 2020
Osvatics v. Lyft, Inc. (District Court of the District of Columbia)
In a class action on behalf of Lyft drivers working in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, the plaintiff, a Lyft driver, alleges that Lyft violated the D.C. Accrue Safe and Sick Leave Act (ASSLA) by failing to provide drivers with paid sick leave. The ASSLA requires employers to allow their employees to accrue a certain amount of paid time off. The plaintiff alleges Lyft has improperly classified her and other drivers as independent contractors, preventing them from accruing needed paid time off under the ASSLA. Further, the plaintiff alleges that given the COVID-19 pandemic, paid sick time is “vitally important,” and without it, “Lyft forces its drivers into a Hobbesian choice: risk their lives (and the lives of their passengers) or risk their livelihoods.” 

March 12, 2020
Verhines v. Uber Technologies Inc. (San Francisco County, California); Rogers v. Lyft, Inc. (San Francisco County, California)
Class action complaints against Uber and Lyft, respectively, allege that because drivers were misclassified as independent contractors (pursuant to California Assembly Bill 5), they have been improperly deprived of necessary paid sick time under the California Labor Code to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Non-compete

August 12, 2020
Wilz v. Solarx Eyewear LLC (Northern District of Ohio) 
The plaintiff, the former director of sales of an eyewear company, alleges that the defendant terminated his employment without cause, and in bad faith, in violation of their employment agreement. The employment agreement, which contained various restrictive covenants, was entered into after the plaintiff sold his interest in his former company to the defendant pursuant to an asset purchase agreement. The plaintiff alleges that he was laid off without pay “ostensibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” then later told that his responsibilities were absorbed by other employees. The plaintiff claims that the defendants issued a vague written warning about unsatisfactory sales and a failure to respond to his supervisor in a timely manner. The plaintiff claims that neither COVID-19 nor its impact on sales were listed as “cause” for termination in the employment agreement. Thus, the plaintiff has alleged that the defendant breached the employment agreement, and seeks relief from enforcement of the non-competition provisions.

May 29, 2020
Mattson, et al. v. WTS International, Inc. (Middle District of Florida)
The four plaintiffs worked as bartenders for a hospitality staffing and management company. As a result of COVID-19, all four plaintiffs were laid off. The plaintiffs allege that after they were laid off, the defendant attempted to enforce unsigned non-compete agreements. The defendant allegedly told the plaintiffs’ prospective employers that they would have to “buy out” the non-compete agreements, and then rejected the prospective employers’ offers to do so, saying that the offers were not high enough. The plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that the non-compete agreements are unenforceable, and claims for defamation and tortious interference.

WARN Act

July 10, 2020
Hampton, et al. v. Golden Valley Health Centers (Merced County, California)
The plaintiff filed a California WARN Act (CAL-WARN) class and PAGA action alleging that she and members of a putative class had their rights under CAL-WARN violated. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant, a provider of health care services to the uninsured, refused her union’s proposals and laid off approximately 350 workers, some temporarily and others permanently, in the weeks after Governor Newsom issued his statewide shutdown order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the defendant gave notice of the lay-offs on April 23, 2020, the plaintiff claims that later notice did not abate the alleged violation of CAL-WARN. The plaintiff seeks back pay, waiting time penalties and civil penalties under PAGA. 

May 6, 2020
Smith, et al. v. Ideal Image Development Corporation, et al. (St. Louis County, Missouri)
Six plaintiffs, who worked in sales for a medical spa, allege that defendants failed to pay them commissions owed and failed to provide notice under Missouri’s WARN Act when they were laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 30, 2020
Green v. The Hertz Corporation (Middle District Florida)
Class action brought by employees who were allegedly terminated in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The complaint alleges that the while the employer previously furloughed employees, the plaintiffs were given no advance notice prior to their terminations, purportedly in violation of the WARN Act.

April 16, 2020
Scott & Seales v. Hooters III Inc. (Middle District Florida)
Class action on behalf of 679 Florida employees who were allegedly terminated in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs allege that no advance notice was given prior to their termination, purportedly in violation of the WARN Act.

Whistleblower

September 9, 2020
Adamczyk v. City of Hamtramck Public Schools (Eastern District of Michigan)
The plaintiff was the assistant principal at a middle school in the defendant school district. On April 15 and April 20, the plaintiff filed complaints with MIOSHA alleging that the defendant was not in compliance with the governor’s executive orders relating to COVID-19 and health department directives. The superintendent allegedly chastised the plaintiff after the second complaint, telling her that she misunderstood how the executive orders applied to the defendant. The plaintiff continued to raise concerns with the superintendent about what she perceived to be non-compliance with executive orders and COVID-19 protocols. On May 20, the plaintiff received a written warning for giving direction on COVID-19 issues based on “gross misunderstandings and misrepresentations,” causing “doubt and disruption,” and causing “needless disruption, anxiety, distraction and delay of immediate and day-to-day operations.” The plaintiff filed two more MIOSHA complaints on May 29 and June 2, due to continued non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols. Around that time, in late May or early June, the plaintiff was granted FMLA leave (for an unspecified reason). On June 15, the plaintiff received yet another written warning for the same issues identified in the prior warning. On June 30, the plaintiff received her performance review, and was given a rating of “minimally effective,” which, under state law, required her to be placed on a performance improvement plan. Then, on Aug. 7, the plaintiff was informed she had been “reassigned” to be a social studies teacher. On Sept. 8, when the plaintiff returned from FMLA leave, she discovered there was a replacement assistant principal in her former position. The plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging retaliation under Michigan’s whistleblower law and failure to return her to her position after FMLA leave.

September 4, 2020
Woodberry v. Aspen Dental Management, Inc. (District of Minnesota)
The plaintiff worked as a dental assistant at one of the defendant’s offices. In fall 2019, the plaintiff reported the dentist she worked under to the defendant’s internal hotline for alleged abuse of patients, for performing procedures while intoxicated, and for engaging in fraudulent billing practices. The plaintiff was allegedly ridiculed by the dentist and her manager after making this report. In March 2020, the defendant closed the office where the plaintiff worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. In early May, the defendant began discussing reopening the office with employees. Originally, the defendant promised employees it would provide them with N95 masks when reopening occurred. The employees were given KN95 masks instead. The plaintiff complained about the masks to the defendant’s director of industrial relations, telling him that the CDC recommended against using KN95 masks. The director of industrial relations allegedly did not address these concerns. The plaintiff claims she had her KN95 mask fitted and tested, and that it failed the test. On May 17, the day before the office was scheduled to open, the plaintiff’s manager told her not to come to work until business picked up. On May 20, the plaintiff was informed by her manager that she was being terminated due to lack of work, and that “performance issues” were considered as well. However, the plaintiff alleges she was never written up or given any performance evaluations. The plaintiff sued the defendant under Minnesota’s whistleblower law for terminating her under the pretext of loss of business due to COVID-19, when the real reason was retaliation for reporting the dentist and for complaining about inadequate PPE.

September 3, 2020
Rose v. Dr. Brenda Coley, et al. (Russell County, Alabama)
The plaintiff is the athletic director of the Russell County School District and head football coach of Russell County High School. He alleges that the Russell County Board of Education made the decision to begin the 2020-2021 school year with virtual learning, but to allow sports to proceed with in-person practices, subject to the school system’s COVID-19 protocols. The plaintiff alleges that on Aug. 10, he reported violations of the COVID-19 protocol by baseball coaches and players. He claims that the coaches and players were not wearing masks and were not social distancing. The plaintiff further alleges that the football team had to shut down its summer practices twice due to COVID-19 outbreaks among its coaches and players, and that one of the coaches was hospitalized. He claims that he spoke out to the media that it was not safe to continue football without testing the players, since they cannot wear face masks or practice social distancing while on the field. He further alleges that on Aug. 25, he wrote an editorial in the Opelika-Auburn News about the lack of testing for high school football players. The plaintiff alleges that as a result of speaking out about the COVID-19 pandemic, he was given two disciplinary letters and was informed that he would be terminated as head football coach. He requests a restraining order prohibiting the defendants from terminating him.

September 2, 2020
Hasz v. Warden James Kimble and Deputy Warden Kimberly Johnson (Maricopa County, Arizona) 
The plaintiff was a lieutenant with the Arizona Department of Corrections. On March 26, 2020, the plaintiff wrote a letter to the governor asserting that the Department of Corrections was neither providing the employees with PPE nor allowing them to wear their own PPE to protect them from COVID-19. This letter was provided to the media, who ran a story on it. The plaintiff and another whistleblower were transferred to a different prison after the story aired. In July, the plaintiff and another lieutenant, also a whistleblower, were involved in an altercation with an inmate wherein the plaintiff had to use a minimal amount of force to subdue the inmate. The plaintiff alleges the use of force was in line with Department of Corrections guidelines, and the other lieutenant involved in the altercation wrote a statement indicating he thought the plaintiff’s use of force was justified and proper. The defendants began a criminal investigation regarding the plaintiff’s use of force, and gave the plaintiff an 80-hour unpaid suspension pending further action. On July 24, the plaintiff wrote another letter to the governor, asserting that the PPE problems had not been addressed by the department, and the media also ran a story on this letter. Shortly after this story aired, the plaintiff received a letter from defendant Kimble placing him on administrative leave. The plaintiff believes that defendant Johnson recommended that he be placed on leave. The plaintiff sued the defendants under Arizona’s whistleblower law for opening an allegedly pretextual investigation and for placing him on administrative leave, purportedly in retaliation for his complaints to the governor.

Sparks v. Atria Management Group, LLC, et al. (Union County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a receptionist at the defendants’ senior living facility, alleges that she was suspended and terminated from her employment in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The plaintiff alleges that the facility’s supply of face masks and gloves frequently ran out, and that on several occasions she had to work without a face mask for one and a half hours before the executive director of the facility arrived at work to replenish the supply. Additionally, the plaintiff alleges that she was required to take the temperature of all visitors and doctors to the facility without any training as to how to properly use the thermometer. The plaintiff alleges that the thermometer did not operate properly and gave low readings or displayed an error message. The plaintiff alleges that during a meeting, she voiced her concerns about the thermometer malfunctions and her close contact with a physician who had tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that after the meeting, the defendants accused her of “texting staff regarding the physician’s test results; gossiping with staff; falsely stating that thermometers did not work; speaking to staff, residents and families of residents in an unsympathetic tone; and being ‘a toxic employee who badmouths’ the [defendants].” The plaintiff alleges that the defendants suspended then terminated her employment due to unsatisfactory performance, in retaliation for her purported CEPA-protected activity. The plaintiff alleges that she never received a negative performance evaluation. 

August 27, 2020
Hodge v. Vista Springs, LLC, et al. (Kent County, Michigan)
The plaintiff was a corporate compliance officer for a group of assisted living communities. She alleges that she documented concerns concerning the defendants’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including that residents with symptoms of COVID-19 were not provided with care, residents were not being placed in quarantine, and there was not documentation to alert staff to positive test results. She alleges that she discussed her findings with the chief wellness officer and the managing partner and nurse manager. The plaintiff alleges that she told a nurse that she was legally bound to report and discuss her findings with governmental agencies and regulators when investigations ensued. The plaintiff claims that on May 29, 2020, she was told that her position was being eliminated and that compliance and policy matters would be handled by one of the nurses. She alleges that her position was not actually being eliminated, and that this explanation was a pretext for her termination. She claims that the defendants actually terminated her to stop her from reporting her findings to state and federal agencies. She brings a claim for violation of Michigan’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

August 23, 2020
Holland v. Vesta Property Services, Inc. (Palm Beach County, Florida)
The plaintiff worked for the defendant, a property management company, in an unspecified role. She alleges that after the COVID-19 outbreak, she asked the defendant for an accommodation under federal and state disability laws, including working remotely. According to the plaintiff, the defendant refused her accommodation request and refused to provide “a workplace that complied with OSHA and CDC guidelines.” The plaintiff claims the defendant fired her after she threatened to report her employer’s conduct to government agencies and refused to return to work. She sued under Florida’s employee whistleblower protection act. 

August 18, 2020
McClure v. Arinas Senior Care, LLC, et al. (Oakland County, Michigan)
The plaintiff, a caregiver who cared for elderly patients at one of the corporate defendant’s senior care facilities, filed a two-count complaint against the corporate defendant and her supervisor claiming that her employment was terminated in violation of the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. According to the plaintiff, while she was working at the defendant’s senior care facility on May 29, 2020, she received a call from a State of Michigan employee, who asked questions relating to patients at the senior care facility, including how many patients had died of COVID-19 and the names of patients who had died of COVID-19 that at any time resided at the senior care facility. The next day, the plaintiff informed her supervisor of the conversation, at which point the supervisor became upset and asked what information the plaintiff had given to the state employee. The following day, the supervisor informed the plaintiff that her employment was terminated because she spoke to the State of Michigan employee. 

August 17, 2020
Clark v. Carlson Management, LLC, et al. (Kern County, California)
The plaintiff, a memory care coordinator at a senior living community, filed a two-count complaint against the defendants, claiming she was terminated for reporting safety concerns to corporate, in violation of California whistleblower protection laws. According to the plaintiff, part of her job duties included assessing residents at other senior living facilities to see if they might be a good fit for defendant’s senior living community. At the outset of the pandemic, and after her son became gravely ill with a fever, the plaintiff told the defendant’s local management that she did not feel comfortable going to other facilities to conduct assessments, given her son’s condition and her general concerns about COVID-19. Local management agreed to allow the plaintiff to postpone the assessments. Subsequently, a representative from defendant’s corporate office sent an email to the plaintiff and local management about the postponed assessments, instructing that the assessments should continue to take place because defendant “still [has] a business to run.” The plaintiff responded to the email, highlighting current data about the rising number of cases of COVID-19, urging the defendants to consider state mandates when determining whether to continue in-person assessments. The corporate representative responded that if the plaintiff could not perform her assigned job duties she would be happy to consider her for another position. Thereafter, local management came to the plaintiff’s office and told her to write out her resignation. She declined. Still, local management said they were accepting her resignation effective immediately and had her escorted out of the building.

August 12, 2020
Brad Barback v. Bryan Fisher & Bryan D. Fisher LLC dba Fisher Injury Lawyers (Middle District of Louisiana)
The plaintiff claims that the defendants, a law firm and attorney, schemed to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic, pressured employees to work without pay, and used federal and state unemployment benefits to indirectly fund the operation of the law firm. The plaintiff alleges that the law firm devised a work-for-free scheme involving terminating employees, encouraging them to go on unemployment compensation, and then asking them to work for free. He claims that his pay was cut by one third, and that he complained about the law firm’s alleged work-for-free scheme, after which the plaintiff was fired. The plaintiff alleges violations of the FLSA and Louisiana whistleblower protection and unfair trade practices statutes. The plaintiff seeks general, compensatory, and special damages, future earnings, back pay, front pay, liquidated and punitive damages, attorney fees, and other relief.

August 11, 2020
Kristi Grimm v. Canfield Place Retirement Community LLC (Multnomah County, Oregon) 
The plaintiff alleges COVID-19 whistleblower discrimination and retaliation. The plaintiff claims that in early August 2020, she made a complaint to the defendant, a retirement community, of a suspected OSHA violation. Specifically, she reported that the defendant was allowing a symptomatic worker to return to the retirement community without first testing negative for COVID-19, because the defendant was short-staffed. The plaintiff claims that her employer then discriminated and retaliated against her through workplace discipline. The plaintiff claims non-economic damages not to exceed $950,000 for emotional harm and interference with daily life activities and other relief. 

August 6, 2020
Hagon v. Global Home Imports Inc. (Maricopa County, Arizona)
The plaintiff was an office manager, and alleges that she was wrongfully terminated in violation of the Arizona Employment Protection Act. The City of Phoenix adopted an ordinance “mandating the wearing of masks anytime an individual leaves his/her home and ordering that the mask be worn at all times whenever an individual is within six (6) feet of another person.” The plaintiff alleges that when she came to work after the ordinance went into effect, she wore a mask as required, but “no one else was wearing a mask.” As a result, she emailed her supervisor and explained that she would work remotely “until everyone in the office could comply” with the mask requirement. Her supervisor responded that he understood her concerns. One week later, the plaintiff claims she again emailed her supervisor explaining that “she was ready to come back to work in the office, assuming that the office had implemented a mask policy that was in compliance with the new mask laws.” The plaintiff alleges that two hours after she asked about the mask policy, she was terminated “for alleged performance issues.” The plaintiff alleges that her termination was actually in retaliation for raising the mask issue a second time. 

August 4, 2020
Brown v. Biomat USA Inc. (Cook County, Illinois)
The plaintiff was the operational supervisor for a plasma donation center. The plaintiff claims that he reported to the FDA and the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association that “his center was not adhering” to COVID-19 regulations from the CDC. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges he reported that: the center was permitting too many people in the building without appropriate social distancing, the center did not appropriately reduce the number of donor seats or provide appropriate spacing between seats, did not establish processes to cap the number of donors in the facility’s lobby, and did not appropriately limit or manage the total number of donors present in the facility at any given time. In the first week of April 2020, the plaintiff contends he disclosed to the defendant the complaints he had made, and that following the disclosure, “various individuals” “became extremely hostile” toward him. According to the plaintiff, in late April 2020, he was told he was suspended and later terminated for “allegedly blocking off appointments in [the defendant’s] appointment system.” The plaintiff alleges that the reason was false, that he “never blocked off any appointments” and “was not responsible and had no authority to schedule appointments or block them out.” The plaintiff alleges that he was wrongfully terminated in relation for reporting the defendant’s purported “failure to comport with its own COVID-19 mitigation steps,” in violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act. 

July 27, 2020
Weiler v. Sexual Violence Center (Hennepin County, Minnesota) 
The plaintiff, a systems change program coordinator for a nonprofit corporation, alleges that she was demoted and then terminated after she raised concerns to the executive director and the board of directors regarding her request to work from home in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims she was demoted, and was told that her demotion was “for attempting to instill fear and anxiety in employees about working in the office during the pandemic.” In addition to the plaintiff’s internal complaints, the plaintiff also sent an email to an email address provided by the state of Minnesota for reporting stay home order violations. The plaintiff alleges that an investigator contacted the executive director about the plaintiff’s report a few days later. Shortly thereafter, the executive director purportedly informed the plaintiff that her position was being eliminated immediately due to a reduction in the workforce. The plaintiff alleges she was terminated in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. 

July 17, 2020
McIntyre v. Medical Solutions, LLC (Jackson County, Missouri)
The plaintiff worked as a nurse for an agency that places nurses in hospitals on short-term contracts. The plaintiff contracted with the defendant to work at a hospital for 10 weeks from March 9, 2020, to May 16, 2020. During her assignment, the plaintiff overheard hospital managers discussing the fact that the hospital had failed to isolate a patient who reported having COVID-19 symptoms – contrary to CDC recommendations – and further, allowed him to walk through the hospital without wearing a mask. According to the plaintiff, the hospital managers were debating whether to warn the doctors and nurses who cared for the patient about their possible exposure to COVID-19 and that ultimately, they decided not to do so. The plaintiff reported to the defendant that the hospital was not informing staff of its possible COVID-19 exposure, was not quarantining patients, and not providing staff with PPE. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant failed to act in response to her warnings. On March 18, 2020, the plaintiff developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Because COVID-19 tests were available only to those who required hospitalization at the time, the plaintiff self-quarantined. She also gave the hospital two weeks’ notice because she felt it was unsafe to return to work there. The defendant responded to the plaintiff’s actions by allegedly refusing to pay her earned wages and sick pay, terminating her employment, and “blackballing her from further travel nursing opportunities within the industry.” The plaintiff alleges, among other causes of action, wrongful discharge and retaliation in violation of Missouri public policy against terminating employees for reporting wrongdoing and unsafe working conditions, having and/or requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability or illness, and promoting activity that helps stem the spread of COVID-19. 

July 8, 2020
Courtney Burton v. St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center (Passaic County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff was an emergency room manager. She alleges that she lodged a complaint with the defendant’s ethics committee regarding multiple staff members becoming infected with COVID-19 due to purportedly inadequate PPE. The plaintiff’s complaint implicated her supervisor, who the plaintiff claims then filed a complaint against her for “allegedly stealing company time.” The complaint against the plaintiff “was proven to be untrue because she was a salaried manager,” but the plaintiff alleges that she was told she was being terminated “because a conflict now existed between” the plaintiff and her supervisor. The human resources director who informed the plaintiff of her termination purportedly “agreed with [the] plaintiff that the termination of her employment did look like retaliation for her filing of the subject ethics complaint that implicated” her supervisor. She brings suit for retaliation under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Act. 

Gonzalez v. Carrillo Surgery Center, Inc. (Santa Barbara Superior Court, California) 
The plaintiff, a registered nurse, alleges that she was terminated after she complained to the defendant employer about unsafe conditions at the defendant’s medical facility. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant had failed to implement necessary safety measures to protect employees and patients from COVID-19, including a lack of available PPE. The plaintiff alleges that two days after she complained, the defendant terminated her. The plaintiff claims that her complaints were protected by California’s whistleblower statute, and that the defendant violated this statute by terminating the plaintiff for complaining. Based on the same facts, the plaintiff also alleges that the defendant retaliated against her for reporting workplace safety hazards in violation of the California Labor Code, and also wrongfully terminated her in violation of California public policy. Finally, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant failed to provide adequate meal and rest periods in violation of the California Labor Code.

July 7, 2020
Rivera v. General Nutrition Corp. (Hillsborough County, Florida)
The plaintiff was a store manager in the defendant’s retail location in Tampa, Florida. Effective June 19, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor of Tampa issued an executive order requiring, among other things, that “every person working, visiting or doing business in … Tampa shall wear a face covering in any indoor location.” On June 22, several customers entered the defendant’s store without face coverings, in violation of the executive order. The plaintiff advised these customers of the executive order’s requirements. At least one customer became physically aggressive while screaming obscenities at the plaintiff. The next day, the plaintiff spoke to his district manager about the customers’ behaviors. The manager told the plaintiff the business would not lose sales because of face covering requirements. He also said he was suspending the plaintiff pending an investigation. That day, Hillsborough County, where the defendant’s store is located, issued an Emergency Face Covering Order, which required business operators to ensure that individuals in their establishments comply with the order’s face covering requirements. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant refused to ensure compliance with the Tampa and Hillsborough face covering orders, that the plaintiff objected to the defendant’s noncompliance, and that the defendant retaliated against him for doing so by terminating his employment one day after suspending him. The plaintiff alleges that his termination violated the Florida Private Whistleblower’s Act.

June 19, 2020
Coley & Crawford v. Princeton University, et al. (Mercer County, New Jersey) 
The plaintiffs, public safety officers, allege that they were unlawfully discharged in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The plaintiffs allege that they were asked to transport students returning from China who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The plaintiffs allege that they had no training, instruction or guidance on how to transport or interact with the students suspected to have come into contact with COVID-19. The plaintiffs claim that they expressed their concerns over the lack of training, and objected to performing the transports. The plaintiffs allege that they provided the defendants with written statements regarding their objections, and were subsequently terminated, purportedly for engaging in CEPA-protected conduct. 

June 17, 2020 
Lisabeth Reglewski v. Landmark of DesPlaines Rehabilitation and Nursing LLC (Cook County, Illinois)
The plaintiff, the director of nursing for the defendant employer, a long-term nursing care facility, alleges that she was terminated for accurately reporting the number of COVID-19 patients at the facility. The plaintiff claims that she reported the number of COVID-19 patients to her supervisor, who then reported them to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The plaintiff was discharged on April 15, 2020, after the defendant reported a lesser number of COVID-19 patients to the Illinois Department of Public Health than the accurate higher number of cases. The plaintiff alleges she was discharged “in retaliation [for her] accurate reporting of Covid 19 patients.” The plaintiff further states that she “has reasonable cause to believe that [her supervisor’s] underreporting violates state or federal law, Rule or regulation.” The plaintiff alleges violations of the Illinois Whistleblower Act and public policy. The plaintiff also asserts a claim for libel, citing alleged false statements on a disciplinary action form related to her work ethic and character.

June 10, 2020
Kalba v. Lee County RV Sales Company (Lee County, Florida)
The plaintiff alleges he was terminated in violation of the Florida Whistleblower Act. The plaintiff alleges that in early March, the governor of Florida ordered the adoption of the CDC guidance, which (he says) required social distancing and the wearing of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff says he complained to human resources about the lack of PPE for its employees, and in particular the lack of masks. He alleges he was told there were no masks available. In response to the concern the plaintiff expressed about putting himself and his family at risk, he was told to take paid time off, which he did. Upon his return to work, the plaintiff complained to a manager that one of the steps the defendant put in place while he was off work was not protecting customers, that customers were being charged for the “Eco Shield” service even when it was not applied, and that the defendant was merely trying to profit from the COVID-19 virus. Subsequently, the plaintiff complained to two managers about his continued concern over the lack of PPE and how he was being treated. Less than two weeks later, the two managers called the plaintiff into a meeting, told him he was not a good fit and that he was terminated, but said the decision had nothing to do with how hard the plaintiff worked or his results. 

Worker's Compensation

August 7, 2020
McKinley County Federation of United School Employees Local 3313, et al. v. Board of Education for the Gallup-McKinley County Public Schools, et al. (McKinley County, New Mexico)
The plaintiffs, which include a labor union representing school district employees, seek a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief against the school board. The complaint alleges that the school board is subject to the New Mexico Public Education Department, which issued “reentry guidance” “regarding how, and under what circumstances, local school districts may safely reopen in the global COVID-19 pandemic.” The complaint alleges that the reentry guidance provides that schools will be “remote only, at least until September 8, 2020,” but that despite the reentry guidance, the school board has “ordered its staff to perform work on site which can easily be performed at home.” The complaint alleges that the employees will “suffer irreparable harm if they are forced to come to work, possibly exposing themselves to the novel [coronavirus] and COVID-19.” As such, the plaintiffs request “a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and permanent injunctive relief prohibiting [the school board] from requiring employees to attend professional development on site or performing any other work on site that can be performed from home.”

August 5, 2020
Taveras v. S. Betram Foods, Inc., et al. (St. Lawrence County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, who unloads delivery trucks, alleges that his employer failed to adhere to the state’s executive orders, resulting in the plaintiff contracting COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that from Feb. 3 through April 20, 2020, New Jersey’s governor “issued approximately 24 Executive Orders during the COVID-19 pandemic,” “but despite these Executive Orders, [the plaintiff’s employer] failed to take the proper steps to protect [the plaintiff] and other employees from COVID-19.” Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that his employer “did not provide any personal protection equipment to [the plaintiff] and/or its other employees” and failed “to shut down production and/or quarantine its employees.” The plaintiff alleges that as a result of these breaches, the plaintiff contracted COVID-19 and “suffered pain and damages.”

June 5, 2020
Fargo v. Big Cedar, LLC (Taney County, Missouri)
The plaintiff was a duty engineer for a wilderness lodge. He alleges that he injured his lower back on the job, and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. He claims that he was placed on limited duty, but was then cleared to return to full-duty work. The plaintiff alleges that two days after he was cleared to return to work, the defendant employer placed him on furlough, purportedly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that although numerous other employees were furloughed, he was the only one who was asked to return his keys. Additionally, the plaintiff alleges that almost two months later, the company sent an email to all associates welcoming them back to work, but the same day, the email he received was recalled. The plaintiff claims that the company kept him on furlough, and continues to do so, although all of the other employees have returned to work. He alleges that the company is keeping him on an indefinite furlough so that he will be forced to quit his job, in retaliation for exercising his rights under the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law. 

Workplace Safety

September 4, 2020
Alcantara v. City of New York (Queens County, New York)
The plaintiff, a New York City police officer, filed suit against the City of New York for negligence. The plaintiff alleges that he was exposed to COVID-19 at a facility owned and operated by the City of New York, by high-ranking New York Police Department officials who had tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that the defendant negligently failed to maintain the premises in a proper and safe manner, and further failed to properly adhere to state and local public health guidance and orders. Thus, the plaintiff alleges that he contracted COVID-19 as a result of the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff seeks monetary damages for his injuries arising out of his COVID-19 illness.

August 20, 2020
Local 917, International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. Empire Merchants, LLC (Eastern District of New York)
The plaintiff, a labor union representing delivery drivers and helpers in the liquor and wine industry, filed suit against the defendant wine and liquor distributor, seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent violation of their collective bargaining agreement while the parties arbitrate their dispute. The union alleges that the defendant is attempting to use non-union workers to staff delivery vehicles in violation of the CBA, for which the union has filed a grievance. The union further asserts that an injunction is necessary because while its members who work for the defendant are subject to strict health and safety regimen in their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the rank and file, the non-union workers are not subject to the same regimen. As a result, the union filed suit to seek a preliminary injunction to preserve the status quo while the parties arbitrate their dispute as required by the CBA.

August 19, 2020
Darnell Gatling v. The City of New York (Queens County, New York)  
The plaintiff, a police detective, claims that on March 13, 2020, while on duty at a Police Academy premises owned by the City of New York, he was exposed to high-ranking personnel of the NYPD who had tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that defendant failed to protect him, violating its duty of care and applicable orders and law. The plaintiff claims that, as a result, he became sick and sustained serious personal injuries. 

August 13, 2020
Collins v. Appaloosa Health Care, Inc. (Dallas County, Texas)
The plaintiff, a registered nurse at a rehabilitation center, filed a petition for disclosure under Texas law, on the basis of personal injuries sustained in her employment allegedly due to her employer’s negligence. The plaintiff claims that she unknowingly was exposed to a new patient who had COVID-19, and that her employer’s admissions coordinator had failed to test the new patient in violation of the employer’s policies. The plaintiff alleges that when she became symptomatic, her employer refused to allow her to go home and threatened to report her to a nursing board for patient abandonment if she did. The plaintiff also alleges that when her own fever reached 103 degrees, her employer instructed her to remove her PPE and stand in front of a fan to cool down. The plaintiff alleges that her employer failed to test residents for COVID-19 prior to admission or to develop, implement or enforce proper policies and procedures; failed to hire and properly train staff on how to prevent or minimize the spread of COVID-19; failed to send home staff who were sick; and failed to comply with OSHA and other public health and safety standards. The plaintiff alleges she was hospitalized in ICU for three weeks and ventilated, followed by months of rehabilitation, and has sustained permanent injuries. The plaintiff alleges that at least six residents and four employees have tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff, “grateful to be alive,” seeks an award in excess of $1,000,000.

August 11, 2020
Reynoso v. Byrne & Schaefer Electrical (Will County, Illinois)
The plaintiff is married to an employee of the defendant, and alleges her husband contracted COVID-19 at work. According to the plaintiff, she cared for her husband for several days and then became ill herself. Her husband then learned from the defendant that at least one employee had contracted COVID-19 and two others may have also, and that the defendant was ceasing operations until further notice. The plaintiff and her husband subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff claims the defendant, among other things, failed to provide employees with PPE, follow federal and CDC guidance, implement appropriate safety protocols, and warn employees that others were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The plaintiff sued the defendant under negligence theories, asserting that the defendant had a duty to her (and others) to exercise reasonable care to keep its workplace and employees free of COVID-19, particularly given that employees were becoming ill with or had a high risk of exposing others to COVID-19, including employees’ household members. 

August 5, 2020
Iniguez v. Aurora Packing Company, Inc. (Kane County, Illinois Circuit Court)
The plaintiff, administrator of a deceased woman’s estate, filed a wrongful death and survival action against the defendant, a meat-packing facility. The defendant employed the decedent’s husband as a butcher. The plaintiff alleges that in late April 2020, the decedent’s husband contracted COVID-19 while at work, and infected his wife, who died from the virus on May 2. According to the plaintiff, the defendant knew employees had contracted COVID-19 at its facility, yet did nothing to mitigate the spread of the virus in the facility. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant was negligent by, among other things, failing to warn employees of a COVID-19 outbreak and failing to implement an infectious disease preparedness and response plan or infection prevention measures consistent with CDC and state department of health guidelines. The plaintiff also asserts that the defendant actively created risk, including by “choosing not to”: provide employees with PPE, implement engineering controls to prevent the virus from spreading, take reasonable measures to allow for social distancing, screen and monitor workers, implement and communicate leave policy, and provide handwashing breaks, hot water, and sanitizer.

Montgomery v. Prevarian Senior Living, LP (Dallas County, Texas)
The plaintiffs, the surviving family members of a deceased assisted living facility worker, allege wrongful death and gross negligence under Texas law. The plaintiffs allege that both the deceased and their daughter, one of the plaintiffs, worked for the assisted living and memory care facility, and both were exposed to COVID-19 when assigned by their employer to sit for hours at a time, unprotected, with a resident whom the employer knew (but did not tell its employees) had tested positive for the virus. The plaintiffs allege that assisted living facilities “have often been described as “epicenters” for COVID-19,” and that the deceased in particular was at higher risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 complications, including death, due to being overweight and a minority. The plaintiffs allege that the employer owed the deceased a duty to provide a safe workplace, including: (1) to warn the deceased that a resident with whom she was required to interact for an extended period of time had tested positive for COVID-19; (2) to consider reasonable risk factors before assigning the deceased to spend time in a room with an infected resident; (3) to not place her at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 without adequate personal protective equipment; (4) to implement safety protocols to prevent the spread of and exposure to COVID-19; and (5) to seek out and remove sources of harm on the premises controlled by the employer. The plaintiffs further allege that with conscious indifference the employer created an extreme risk of harm by failing to inform the plaintiff-daughter and other co-workers of the resident’s infection or to adequately address the danger before instructing the plaintiff-daughter and other workers to work near the resident. The plaintiffs seek an award in excess of $1,000,000.

July 24, 2020
Switz v. Fisher Titus Health (Huron County, Ohio)
The plaintiff, “a CMA patients accounts/insurance specialist,” alleges she was constructively discharged because “to remain employed” by the defendant, “she would have to agree to work in a unsafe workplace in a medical clinic.” The plaintiff claims that her work place was unsafe for two reasons: (1) she was told by her managers that “she could not wear a face mask to prevent her from being exposed to [the] COVID-19 virus under the unreasonable theory that if she wore such a mask, it might make other people think the medical facility was not safe;” and (2) her employer “insisted that the untrained Plaintiff provide medical care assistance to COVID-19 patients in a separate hospital building while she suffers from a cardiac condition that makes her more vulnerable to the virus.” The plaintiff alleges that when she protested these instructions, she was told “to do what you are told.” The plaintiff alleges that she was forced to resign as a result of the unsafe working conditions. The plaintiff claims that her employer violated Ohio’s public policy requiring employers to provide employees with a safe work environment, and this violation resulted in the plaintiff’s constructive discharge. 

July 22, 2020
Ornelas et al. v. Central Valley Meat Co., Inc. (Eastern District of California)
The plaintiff brought a class action against the defendant meat-packing plant, alleging a number of violations of California state law due to the defendant’s alleged failure to take appropriate actions and to adopt recommended precautions against the spread of COVID-19. By mid-April, the defendant had at least nine known cases of COVID-19 in its workforce. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant did nothing to arrest the spread of the virus in its plant, and in fact took action that made it worse. The defendant allegedly did not inform employees of positive COVID-19 tests among the workforce; allowed employees who tested positive to return to work within days of testing positive; failed to send home employees who were experiencing symptoms of COVID-19; pressured employees who were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to come to work, threatening them with discipline under its no-fault attendance policy; and failed to implement preventative measures recommended by the CDC and OSHA (such as social distancing and encouraging extra breaks for employees to wash their hands.) Employees only learned that several of their co-workers had tested positive for COVID-19 by talking with each other on Facebook. By early May, the defendant had 161 reported positive COVID-19 cases in the plant. The plaintiff began to experience symptoms and tested positive for the virus. The plaintiff paid for the test on her own, as the defendant allegedly refused. The plaintiff claims that even after she tested positive, she was pressured to come to work. The plaintiff brings her claim on behalf of a class of employees, and alleges a number of violations of California state law, such as negligence, public nuisance, wanton and reckless misconduct, and violations of the California Family Rights Act, as well as a violation of federal law under the FMLA.

June 29, 2020
Local Joint Executive Board of Las Vegas v. Harrah’s Las Vegas LLC, et al. (District of Nevada) 
The plaintiff labor union sued two hotels and a condominium complex on the Las Vegas strip seeking a “reverse Boys Market” injunction to prevent the employers from enforcing COVID-19 health and safety rules that the union alleges are “manifestly unreasonable … for addressing instances in which a worker tests positive for COVID-19.” The plaintiff alleges that these rules (1) permit the defendants to continue to operate and to require employees to continue to work, without a COVID-19 contact person for each shift who is trained in the scientifically accurate protocols for reporting, quarantine and isolation; (2) permit the defendants to continue operating without immediately closing and conducting deep cleaning of the infected worker’s work areas; (3) permit the defendants to continue operating, and to require employees to work, without immediately informing the them that a co-worker has tested positive for COVID-19; (4) permit the defendants to continue operating, and to require employees to continue working, without immediately conducting any contact tracing so that potentially exposed employees may quarantine; and (5) permit untrained and unqualified managers and security personnel to pressure employees to continue working even when they complain of symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have worked in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The union seeks an injunction preventing the defendants from “promulgating and following unreasonable rules” until its grievances have been arbitrated under its collective bargaining agreement, and an injunction “abating the nuisances” alleged in its grievances. 

June 11, 2020
Elijah v. Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation (Hudson County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, the representative of a deceased power rail mechanic for a rail carrier, alleges wrongful death under New Jersey law. The plaintiff alleges that the deceased was exposed to COVID-19 when he embraced a co-worker who later tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that the decedent was not wearing a mask, because his employer “instructed its workers at safety meetings not to wear masks at work unless they were performing their specific job functions.” Approximately 10 days after being exposed to COVID-19, the decedent began to experience symptoms of COVID-19, which progressively worsened. The complaint alleges that decedent was hospitalized, and over the next 20 days, experienced a “horrible and protracted death.” The plaintiff alleges that the employer was negligent by: (1) failing to provide employees with a safe place to work; (2) failing to properly train employees about contracting COVID-19 at work; (3) failing to timely provide PPE to employees; (4) failing to conduct contact tracing; (5) failing to test employees for COVID-19; (6) failing to timely quarantine decedent and other employees who had been exposed to COVID-19; (7) failing to apply social distancing measures for employees; (8) failing to properly clean areas; (9) failing to warn employees of the dangers of contracting COVID-19 at work; (10) failing to medically treat the decedent; and (11) failing to follow its own safety rules, practices, and procedures.  

June 10, 2020
Esco v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc. (Sacramento Superior Court)
The plaintiff filed an action alleging that she and the members of a putative class are victims of employment policies, practices, and procedures that violate California’s Business and Professions, Civil and Labor Codes as well as the Department of Industrial Relations, Industrial Welfare Commission, and Division of Occupational Safety and Health orders and standards. The plaintiff cites a variety of state, local and federal regulations and guidelines and contends that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic the defendant failed to implement and maintain an effective illness and injury prevention program and provide proper PPE, materials, policies, trainings and communication to the plaintiff and members of the class. Specifically, she claims that the defendant failed to provide sufficient sanitary face coverings, failed to require customers, vendors and others entering the stores to wear face coverings, failed to endorse social distancing, failed to provide sufficient breaks to allow for hand washing stations, failed to provide sufficient hand sanitizer, failed to train employees on the use of protective gear such as the removal of gloves and masks, failed to implement an illness prevention program, failed to provide sufficient barriers and failed to provide sufficient disinfectants and cleaning agents. Based upon this conduct, the plaintiff alleges she and all non-exempt employees are entitled to relief because the defendant’s conduct constitutes a public nuisance. She also claims that she and the class are entitled to injunctive relief to stop the defendant’s alleged violations of state law. 

May 13, 2020
Flores v. Built Brands, LLC (Utah County, Utah)
The plaintiff, a production line worker for a nutritional supplement manufacturer, alleges she contracted COVID-19 when her employer remained open for operations despite being aware that workers on the production line contracted COVID-19, and other employees expressed concerns about reporting to work. The plaintiff alleges that her employer inflicted harm upon her by failing, among other things, to: (1) follow all applicable government-issues safety rules; (2) cease business operations; (3) provide employees PPE; (4) have adequate policies and procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at their facilities; (5) adequately sanitize the facilities; and (6) heed employees’ safety warnings. The plaintiff seeks damages for, among other things “emotional pain, great physical pain ... past and future medical expenses ... permanent impairment, diminished earning capacity, lost wages, past and future household services, diminished life expectancy,” and punitive damages.

May 7, 2020
Jane Doe v. Hillstone Restaurant Group Inc. dba R&D Kitchen (Northern District of Texas)
In a case removed to federal court from Dallas County Court, the Plaintiff, a kitchen worker, alleges that she was informed she would be removed from the schedule and would not be permitted to return to work at the reopened restaurant unless “she agreed to work without a face covering.” The plaintiff alleges that she was informed that the restaurant would be re-opening following the Governor’s executive order permitting restaurants to allow limited dine-in services, but that “the company was prohibiting employees from wearing masks or face coverings while at work.” The plaintiff seeks a TRO enjoining the employer from prohibiting employees from wearing face coverings and putting the plaintiff back her prior schedule.

May 5, 2020
Paterson Custodial & Maintenance Association v. Paterson Board of Education (Passaic County, New Jersey)
Plaintiff, a labor union, filed a lawsuit on behalf of its members against a local board of education seeking injunctive and declaratory relief, alleging that the defendant had violated the state emergency order pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff union alleged that the board of education violated the order by requiring its members to return to work on a full-time basis to perform their regular, non-essential duties. The plaintiff union alleges that the board’s disregard for the order places it members, many of whom are older and have pre-existing conditions, at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Wrongful Termination, Retaliation and Bias

September 4, 2020
Becker v. Carteret Management Corporation d/b/a Rio Vista Village (Pinellas County, Florida)
The plaintiff, a maintenance worker for an apartment complex, alleges retaliation in violation of Florida’s Private Whistleblower’s Act. The plaintiff alleges that the governor of Florida “issued an executive order instructing the state of Florida to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic.” Because of the stay at home order, the plaintiff took “the rest of the week off.” That same week, the plaintiff’s supervisor called the plaintiff to discuss his absences from work. The plaintiff claims that he told his supervisor he “was scared to go into occupied apartments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The plaintiff and his supervisor agreed that outside vendors would perform needed work inside occupied apartments, and that the plaintiff could work reduced hours by cleaning only the communal areas. Under this understanding, the plaintiff agreed to return to work the following week. The plaintiff claims that the following week, the plaintiff was asked to perform work inside an occupied apartment, so he asked his supervisor for a mask and PPE to protect himself. The plaintiff claims that his supervisor told him that the company was not responsible for providing PPE. The plaintiff informed his supervisor that “he did not feel comfortable going into an occupied apartment without PPEs,” to which the plaintiff did not receive a response. A few weeks later, the plaintiff’s supervisor handed the plaintiff a letter that terminated his employment. The plaintiff claims that he was terminated “shortly after he made numerous complaints to … management regarding the unsafe conditions and lack of PPE relating to COVID-19.”

Kristen A. Morris v. Andrew Sklar; Sklar Law LLC (Cape May County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and alleges that her disability puts her at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that the defendant retaliated against her by terminating her employment when she requested the opportunity to work from home because of her medical disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff also contends that she objected to conduct she reasonably believed violated the New Jersey governor’s orders concerning workplace operations during the COVID-19 crisis. Specifically, the plaintiff objected to the defendant’s insistence that all employees, with the exception of the defendant’s nephew, continue to work from the office despite the New Jersey governor’s order requiring that employers accommodate their workforce, “wherever practicable, for telework or work-from-home arrangements.” The plaintiff alleges that her objection to working from the office every day without “enhanced” COVID-19 protocols in place, along with her request to work from home, led to her discharge. 

Reinhardt v. Clinical & Saraswatikunj Enterprise Incorporated, et al. (Morris County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, an office manager for the defendant, suffered from asthma and had an asthma attack shortly before the defendant decided to reopen and return its employees to the office on June 19, 2020. On June 25, the plaintiff obtained a doctor’s note indicating that she was high-risk for COVID-19, and that she could not return to work until the end of July or the beginning of August. The defendant communicated to the plaintiff that if she did not return to work by June 29, they would view her actions as resignation, and ultimately communicated to the plaintiff that she was no longer an employee. The defendant also requested COBRA payments for plaintiff’s health insurance, which the plaintiff claims effected her termination. The plaintiff brings claims for disability discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), discrimination based on a perceived disability under the LAD, retaliation under the LAD, failure to accommodate under the LAD, and other equitable relief.

Joseph Savino v. Luxury Cars of Southampton Inc. d/b/a Lexus of Southampton; Dina Burns (Suffolk County, New York)
The plaintiff brings suit claiming age discrimination. The plaintiff is a 68-year-old salesperson, and the only “master certified salesperson” employed by the defendants. The plaintiff was laid off after the defendants reduced work operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and alleges he was advised he could return to work on June 8. Upon his return to the workplace, the plaintiff discovered that two younger salespeople had returned to work two months prior to his return. The plaintiff alleges that the other two salespeople have since been treated more favorably, because they were permitted to sell to new customers while he was limited to selling only to his existing customer base. He also alleges that he was told he could no longer take appointments with walk-in customers or receive phone or internet leads, and that he was instructed that all walk-in appointments and phone or internet leads were to be directed to the other two salespeople instead. The plaintiff also claims that the defendants have actively denied the plaintiff new customer leads and have diverted sales opportunities from the plaintiff’s existing customer base away from him in favor of the other salespeople, resulting in a decrease in the plaintiff’s compensation. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants’ preferential treatment of its younger salespeople constitutes age discrimination. 

September 3, 2020
Cox v. Olde England’s Lion & Rose Rim, LLC et al. (Western District of Texas)
The plaintiff, a bartender, filed a single-count complaint against the defendants claiming he was terminated in violation of the FFCRA. The plaintiff began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on July 2. That day, a friend who worked at a laboratory tested him for COVID-19 and told the plaintiff that his test result was positive. The plaintiff notified the defendants that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and that he had been advised to self-quarantine. The defendants subsequently requested proof of his positive test result. The plaintiff then went to a clinic for a rapid COVID-19 test, which also was positive. The plaintiff submitted the results of his rapid test to the defendants. After the plaintiff checked the work schedule and realized he was not scheduled to work, the plaintiff contacted one of his managers for an explanation. According to the plaintiff, the manager told the plaintiff that he had been instructed to terminate the plaintiff and another bartender who had COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that he was terminated because he tested positive for COVID-19 and because he requested time off due to his positive test result and need to self-quarantine, all in violation of the FFCRA.

Doern v. Big Timberworks (Gallatin County, Montana)
The plaintiff filed suit against his former employer, a custom metalwork company, for wrongful termination under Montana’s Wrongful Discharge Act. The plaintiff alleges that he has asthma and has school-aged children whose school closed on April 27 due to the COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant knew all of these facts. On April 30, the plaintiff requested leave under the FFCRA. That same day, the defendant allegedly had a call with the plaintiff demanding, in a hostile and intimidating manner, that he return to work. The plaintiff thereafter lodged a complaint to the defendant’s ownership about the threatening and intimidating behavior he experienced on the call. Following his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant fired him despite his positive recent annual review and six-year employment history. The plaintiff therefore asserts a claim for wrongful discharge under Montana law. 

Peeples v. Clinical Support Options, Inc. (District of Massachusetts)
The plaintiff, a licensed clinical social worker, began working for defendant on March 2, 2020, just before the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon declaration of the pandemic on March 18, the plaintiff immediately requested the ability to telework. The plaintiff alleges she engaged in telework from March 18 to June 26 using Zoom, phone and email, was complimented for her performance and received no complaints. However, the defendant insisted that program managers return to the office in May 2020, and after an interactive process and a month of additional telework, the plaintiff was required to return to the office. The plaintiff complains that rather than having disinfectant and hand sanitizer placed on the plaintiff’s desk, this equipment was only available in the defendant’s supply closet, and that defendant supplied KN95 masks rather than N95 masks. The plaintiff also complains that they were constantly dehydrated due to the necessity to never take off the mask. The plaintiff contends that every task performed in the office could have been done virtually, and that the return to the office negatively impacted the plaintiff’s health and the services provided to therapy clients. The plaintiff initially resigned, but when the defendant began allowing parents to work remotely part-time, rescinded that resignation and announced an intent to telework instead. When the defendant explained that the telework accommodation did not apply to managers, the plaintiff nonetheless persisted in the assertion that they would continue to telework beginning on Sept. 8. The plaintiff preemptively filed this lawsuit prior to that date, presumably to attempt to prevent termination. The plaintiff asserts claims for disability discrimination under state and federal law, and seeks a TRO and preliminary injunction permitting telework pending the outcome of the case. 

Marcela Regalado v. Joya Food Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Vallarta Supermarkets (San Diego County, California)
The plaintiff, a meat dispatcher, claims violations of California law stemming from her termination allegedly for seeking medical treatment out of fear that she had contracted COVID-19. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that she began to experience COVID-19 symptoms and contacted her medical provider, who instructed her to go home and quarantine until her telemedicine appointment the following day. The plaintiff stated that she informed her manager of her symptoms and that she had accrued 14 hours of paid sick leave that she could utilize. The plaintiff claims that her manager assured her that she would be paid for her two sick days, and directed her to submit a doctor’s note. According to the complaint, she was informed that her symptoms were related to an ear infection and not COVID-19, that she was cleared to return to work, and that a doctor’s statement was faxed to her employer. When the plaintiff returned to work, she alleges that she was directed to meet with management, and was questioned about her absences. The plaintiff claims that management denied receiving a fax from her doctor or that her supervisor approved her to take sick leave, resulting in her suspension pending an investigation into her absences. When the plaintiff was instructed to return to work following the investigation, she was terminated without justification. The plaintiff alleges she was terminated for her purported “disability and requests to use medical leave to which she was legally entitled,” that she was denied an unspecified reasonable accommodation, and that her employer failed to pay her outstanding wages within 72 hours of her termination, in violation of California’s labor code.

September 2, 2020
Kevin Lisi v. Ahern, Inc. (Harris County, Texas)
The plaintiff, an operations manager for a rental company, claims he was wrongfully terminated, in breach of his employment contract under Texas law, for purportedly not reporting COVID-19 symptoms and potentially exposing other employees to the virus.  The plaintiff alleges that he was originally told by a health care provider that his symptoms were related to allergies and not the virus, although he later tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that when he learned of his confirmed COVID-19 case, he immediately reported it to his employer and was subsequently terminated for failure to timely report his symptoms. The plaintiff alleges that his employer’s “right to discharge [him] did not include contracting, reporting or in any way giving, having or not reporting anything about COVID-19” to his employer. The plaintiff’s claim for damages include attorneys’ fees and costs.

Maria Miranda, aka Maria Pastrana v. Cambro Manufacturing (Orange County, California)
The plaintiff worked for the defendant, a food container manufacturing company, for 30 years. According to the plaintiff, during her tenure, the defendant promoted her to the position of area supervisor and never gave her a poor performance review. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant used the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on its operations as a pretext for wrongfully terminating and retaliating against her and offering only $826 in severance after 30 years of service. Specifically, she claims that the defendant retaliated against her for seeking workers compensation for a work related injury and accommodations for her resulting disability. The plaintiff also claims the defendant discriminated against her based on her age, because the defendant replaced her with a younger individual. Lastly, the plaintiff alleges that, given her stellar work performance, the defendant had previously promised her that it would only terminate her for cause. Thus, she claims that the defendant wrongfully terminated her in breach of an implied employment agreement. 

Mouat v. Southeast Utilities of Georgia, Inc. (Middle District of Florida)
The plaintiff, an administrative assistant, sued her employer for violations of the FLSA and FFCRA/EPSLA. The plaintiff claims she “began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and also learned that she was previously exposed to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.” The plaintiff claims she notified the defendant via text message of her symptoms and exposure, and that she planned to be tested for COVID-19. In response, she claims, the defendant allegedly “informed Plaintiff that she should not return to work until she received her COVID-19 test results.” The plaintiff obtained a test on June 15 and was “off from work in quarantine pending her COVID-19 test results and per Defendant’s instructions.” The plaintiff claims she was terminated on June 19 while still awaiting her test results, which ultimately came back positive. She further alleges that she informed the defendant of her positive test result on June 20, the day she received it. The plaintiff claims that under the FFCRA/EPSLA, she was eligible for but did not receive paid leave, and that the defendant “retaliated against Plaintiff for pursuing her rights under the FLSA and the FFCRA by terminating her employment.”

September 1, 2020
Wadley v. National Railway Equipment Co. (Western District of Kentucky)
The plaintiff, an electrician who was advised to self-quarantine due to health concerns related to COVID-19, filed a three-count complaint against the defendant for alleged violations of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, as well as an equitable estoppel claim. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the plaintiff informed the defendant that he might need time off to care for his mother who had cancer and his son who had PTSD, and asked whether these absences would be problematic under the defendant’s attendance policy. The plaintiff was told by HR that the facility where the plaintiff worked did not follow the attendance point system, and that his supervisor would let him know if his attendance became problematic. After the pandemic hit, the plaintiff’s health care provider advised him to take two weeks off due to COVID-19 concerns. In June 2020, the defendant terminated the plaintiff for attendance issues, without warning the plaintiff that his attendance had become problematic. The plaintiff claims the defendant paid him improperly for the two weeks of EPSL leave, and that the defendant terminated him in retaliation for exercising his right to take EPSL. In addition, the plaintiff claims wrongful termination because he relied on the defendant’s false representation that he would be notified in advance if his attendance became problematic.

August 31, 2020
Balbuena v. True, et al. (Orange County, California)
The plaintiff, a diabetic employee of a privately held real estate, consumer goods, retail, entertainment and private equity concern, alleges state law claims for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in interactive process and retaliation. She claims her employer and its officers denied her two weeks leave to protect herself and her elderly parents, who were in her care, from COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants, who were aware of her underlying medical condition and her parental care responsibilities, denied her face masks and gloves, did not practice social distancing, and terminated her employment upon her request for leave, under the pretext of a downturn in business. Unrelated to her COVID-19 claims, the plaintiff also alleges various state law wage and hour violations and a PAGA claim – on behalf of all laborers, housekeepers, maintenance workers and independent contractors employed by defendants – for failure to pay overtime, double time, sick pay and unspecified premium pays, and for failure to provide wage statements. The plaintiff seeks unspecified past and future wages, compensatory and emotional distress damages, liquidated and other punitive damages, statutory penalties, attorneys’ fees and interest, and injunctive relief.

Camlin v. Exeter Health Resources, Inc., et al. (Rockingham County, New Hampshire) 
The plaintiff, a dental hygienist, alleges that her employment was wrongfully terminated after she took a leave of absence to care for her preschool-aged children. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendant’s dental office temporarily closed, and the defendants offered the plaintiff the choice of either being reassigned to a newly created position at a hospital or taking a leave of absence. The plaintiff alleges that she had to take a leave of absence to care for her children, whose daycare had shut down. The plaintiff was allegedly terminated for abandoning her position. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants retaliated against the plaintiff for taking leave to care for her children. 

Pisciueri v. Desert Dermatology Medical Associates, Inc., et al. (Riverside County, California)
The plaintiff, a licensed cosmetologist and beautician, alleges, among other things, that she was wrongfully terminated and retaliated against in violation of California law. The plaintiff claims that on March 16, she expressed concern to her supervisor and her supervisor’s executive assistant about performing cosmetology work on clients because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that she told her supervisor that because of COVID-19, she would complete her appointments the next day, but would no longer be coming into work. On March 26, the plaintiff’s supervisor’s executive assistant asked the plaintiff if she wanted to handle a client appointment. The plaintiff claims that she declined the work. Despite state and local orders designating esthetician services as non-essential and banning in-person cosmetology work, her supervisor “pressured [the plaintiff] to resume working” while “she was prohibited by law from doing so.” The plaintiff told the executive assistant that the company “was not taking this pandemic seriously.” On June 23, the executive assistant told the plaintiff that “she had to turn in her office key and … shirts with the company logo.” In doing so, the executive assistant “communicated [the plaintiff’s supervisor’s] decision to terminate [the plaintiff’s] employment.” The plaintiff seeks “general and special damages, including emotional distress, anxiety, depression … medical expenses, and past and future lost wages and benefits.”

August 28, 2020
Wise v. Bozeman Deaconess Health Services (Gallatin County, Montana)
The plaintiff, a speech therapist for a non-profit medical provider, alleges state law claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy and defamation after her employer terminated her employment due to a workplace altercation involving the plaintiff and other staff members. The plaintiff alleges that during the days of increased COVID-19 infections in the state of Montana, she observed nasal discharge from one of her patients, a minor, and attempted without success to discuss with colleagues the prospect of sending the patient home. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant convened an “incident” meeting about the discussion and then terminated the plaintiff’s employment based on incorrect facts, including that the plaintiff shouted “F**K” three times in front of the minor patient, told a coworker to “shut up,” and slammed a door. The plaintiff claims that when she refused to shake hands at the “incident” meeting, her “Covid-denier” employer said to her, “Oh, you’re one of those people.” The plaintiff claims that the defendant’s representatives told her that she was “in the wrong profession,” and that she “couldn’t handle the stress of health care.” The plaintiff seeks unspecified damages including punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. 

Alan Doward v. Down’s North Bakersfield Inc., et al. (Kern County, California Superior Court)
The plaintiff alleges discriminatory age-based termination and failure to hire and retaliation in violation of California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and public policy. The plaintiff claims that after he was laid off as a finance manager for the auto dealership Down’s North, due to a COVID-19 business shutdown, his employer refused to let him come back to work and replaced him with a younger person with far less experience. Specifically, the plaintiff was laid off in March 2020, and then noted that operations were partially active in April 2020. At that point, a less experienced finance manager (whose employment had been re-activated) had been installed in his office. In May 2020, the plaintiff discovered that another finance manager had been recalled, while the plaintiff still had not. In June 2020, the plaintiff was told that when business increased he would be considered for re-hire. In July, the plaintiff learned that Down’s North was being acquired by Shelly Automotive Group, which was hiring Downs’ workforce. The plaintiff requested to be on-boarded to guarantee hiring by Shelly Automotive, which did not occur. The plaintiff requests a range of damages, including lost wages and other monetary damages, emotional distress and punitive damages, and attorney fees.

Franks v. Prism Color Corporation, et al. (Burlington County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a shift manager for over 20 years, alleges disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The plaintiff alleges that on March 19, the plaintiff “woke up feeling ill with flu-like symptoms including a sore throat.” The plaintiff was tested for COVID-19 the same day, and was “instructed by his doctor to quarantine for 14 days or until his test results came back.” The plaintiff notified a co-owner of his employer that his physician instructed him to quarantine while awaiting his test results, and in response the co-owner told the plaintiff to take the following week off. The plaintiff alleges that on March 23, the other co-owner of the company notified the plaintiff that he was laid-off. On May 8, the plaintiff claims he was informed that he was terminated. The plaintiff alleges that a “determinative and/or motivating fact in [the plaintiff’s] termination was Defendants’ perceptions of or regarding [the plaintiff’s] disability and/or potential COVID-19 diagnosis” and the plaintiff’s protected activity of requesting time off as a result of potentially having COVID-19.

Kollie v. Powerback Rehabilitation Moorestown, et al. (Burlington County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a social specialist, alleges that she was unlawfully discharged in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The plaintiff alleges that she engaged in CEPA-protected activity when she complained to her supervisor that there was a potential for cross-contamination in the way the defendants were administering COVID-19 temperature checks. Specifically, the plaintiff was concerned that the thermometer was not being wiped or otherwise disinfected between uses. The plaintiff’s supervisor allegedly conveyed that it was “no big deal,” and told the plaintiff that she could bring in her own thermometer if she was concerned. When the plaintiff returned to work, the plaintiff presented her own thermometer, but the nurse informed her that she could not use her own thermometer. The plaintiff alleges that she again expressed her concerns about cross-contamination and was sent home. Later, the defendant called the plaintiff and informed her that they understood her concerns and that a clean thermometer would be provided to her. The next day, the plaintiff complained that the nurse administering the temperature checks was not wearing gloves. The plaintiff expressed her concerns regarding the risk of COVID-19 infection. The defendant then sent the plaintiff home, and later informed her that she was being discharged for job abandonment. The plaintiff claims that her termination was motivated by her CEPA-protected activity.

Prada v. Trifecta Productions, LLC (d/b/a Tomkun Noodle Bar) (Eastern District of Michigan)
The plaintiff, the assistant manager of a noodle bar on the University of Michigan campus, filed suit after he contracted COVID-19, was ordered to self-quarantine by the county health department, and was subsequently “unceremoniously fired.” The plaintiff alleges he advised his employer of the order to self-quarantine, and was “interrogated” by his supervisor. The supervisor asked him how he contracted the virus, and “whether he had been out partying and acting irresponsible,” then told him that there was evidence on social media that the plaintiff had been out in a crowd. The supervisor then allegedly told the plaintiff that “for PR reasons it would be best for you not to come back to work,” after which he was terminated. The plaintiff brings claims for interference and retaliation in violation of his rights under the FFCRA, wrongful termination in violation of public policy and a claim under the FLSA for improper tip crediting and misappropriation of service charges. 

Daniel Wilson v. APC Workforce Solutions II, LLC, et al. (Southern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff, a site coordinator at a construction site, claims disability discrimination under federal law, as well as violations for failure to pay overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Ohio law. In March 2020, the plaintiff was overseeing a construction site approximately 100 miles from his home, which required him to stay in hotels during the workweek. Around that time, the plaintiff alleges that his physician informed him that his heart disease, which his employer was apprised of, made him vulnerable to COVID-19 and that he should avoid staying in hotels. As a result, the plaintiff requested a temporary accommodation, which was granted, and he worked from home for approximately three weeks. The plaintiff then resumed his employment, driving from his home to the worksite. The plaintiff alleges that his employer stated that he was not permitted to drive to the site or leave his vehicle at the site, stated that he “didn’t ‘give a s**t’ about [the plaintiff’s] vulnerability to COVID-19” and denied the plaintiff’s second request for an accommodation. The plaintiff alleges that because he was forced to choose between his health and his job, he submitted two weeks’ notice and a doctor’s statement recommending he continue to commute from home, with the hope that his employer would grant this continued accommodation. The plaintiff alleges that in response to the two weeks’ notice, he was immediately terminated because of his disability. 

August 27, 2020
Kishore v. City and County of San Francisco, et al. (San Francisco County, California)
The plaintiff, an individual with physical and mental disabilities, claims, among other things, disability discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of California law. The plaintiff claims she is at high risk of contracting COVID-19 because she has unspecified physical disabilities that limit her ability to breathe. In April 2020, the plaintiff claims that her supervisor asked her if she could “do the Disaster Service Worker (DSW) hall monitor position in the hotels where the City and County of San Francisco was housing COVID-19 patients.” The plaintiff asked her supervisor why she was chosen “for this high-risk assignment when she knew there were other co-workers who were not high risk who were not selected to work the DSW position even though they were trained to do DSW work.” The plaintiff’s supervisor responded that “it was his call and he could decide who went to which position” and “that if she could not work in the DSW position, she would need to send him a signed self-certification document that he provided to her attesting to her inability to work.” The plaintiff claims that she “felt she had no choice but to sign the self-certification document even though she was fully prepared to return to work in a position for which she had been trained and in a position that would not exposure her to an even greater risk of COVID-19 than she would experience in her normal position.” She alleges that due to her inability to be reassigned to DSW because of her high-risk status, the plaintiff has been “prevented from working.”

Roveda v. PK Welding, LLC, d/b/a PK Mechanical Services, et al. (Ocean County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff asserts that the defendant terminated him because he expressed concerns about the defendant’s compliance with COVID-19 stay at home orders and social distancing guidelines (among other things). On March 12, 2020, the plaintiff claims that he met with the defendant’s owners, who accused him of “being a problem spotter instead of a problem solver.” The next day, the plaintiff contends he was fired, in violation of state law protecting employee whistleblowers.   

Lisa Gould v. Quaker Window Products Company (Osage County, Missouri)
The plaintiff, a factory worker, claims violations under Missouri’s Human Rights Act for unlawful termination based on disability. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that her employer required all employees to bleach their work stations four times per day due to COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that she informed her employer that she had a severe bleach allergy which caused difficulty breathing and could lead to anaphylactic shock. The plaintiff alleges that her employer refused to consider or discuss the use of alternative disinfectants to bleach as a reasonable accommodation, and that the only option she was given was to stay at home and use paid-time-off hours (PTO) hours while the plant continued to use bleach. After the plaintiff exhausted all of the PTO she had accrued over three years and refused to borrow more, she was terminated. The plaintiff alleges her disability was a motivating factor in her termination. 

August 26, 2020
Laura Hernandez v. California Skin Institute Management LLC (Monterey County, California)
The plaintiff, a long-tenured medical assistant of the defendant medical practice, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in or about 2017. She claims that, at times, her condition substantially limited her ability to work. As a result of her thyroid condition, the plaintiff reportedly submitted a doctor’s note indicating she needed to be off work through at least April 3, and referenced that additional time may be needed. The plaintiff complains that she became the victim of discrimination when she was unlawfully selected to be part of a group of employees whose employment was “permanently terminated” on or about March 25 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The employment of other employees was only temporarily terminated. The plaintiff claims disability discrimination, failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to accommodate, and retaliation in violation of California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA); wrongful termination in violation of public policy; intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff requests a range of damages, including lost wages, punitive damages, attorney fees, and other economic damages.

Aldridge v. Carrols Corporation (Western District of Tennessee)
The plaintiff, a real estate manager, alleges gender discrimination in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act and breach of contract. The plaintiff alleges that on March 20, her employment was terminated by her employer “due to financial strain stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.” The plaintiff claims that at the time of her termination, she had three male coworkers who were similarly situated, and that “based on purely objective performance,” the plaintiff “had outperformed all of her male coworkers.” Despite this, the plaintiff alleges that she was selected for termination “while her lower performing male coworkers continued their employment.” The plaintiff claims that her termination constitutes “unlawful gender discrimination in violation of the Tennessee Human Rights Act.”

Dawn Gutsch v. Oak Grove Union School District, et al. (Sonoma County, California)
The plaintiff, a human resource and data systems technician for a school district, claims wrongful termination under California law resulting from her complaints about her employer’s directive to conduct in-person interviews in violation of the county health officer’s stay at home order. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the county health officer ordered all businesses to close, with the exception of essential workers. The plaintiff alleges that despite the health officer’s order, she was directed to conduct in-person interviews to hire a principal. The plaintiff stated that she objected to the superintendent’s request, stating that it was “not a good course of action to conduct non-essential in-person interviews in light of the pandemic and the Health Officer’s order.” The plaintiff alleges that the superintendent became “instantly agitated and angry stating that ‘if [the plaintiff] can’t do [her] job, [she] would do it for [her].” The plaintiff claims that she contacted a neighboring superintendent to speak to the plaintiff’s superintendent in an effort to stop the in-person interviews from occurring. The plaintiff alleges that she then texted the superintendent to inform her that she would be working remotely pursuant to the county health officer’s order. The plaintiff stated that she not hear from the superintendent until 12 days later, when she received a “terse e-mail” scheduling a Zoom meeting which resulted in her termination. The plaintiff alleges she was terminated due to reporting or complaining about violations of the stay at home order. 

Morrison v. SPS Companies, Inc., et al. (Western District of Missouri)
The plaintiff was the director of operations for the defendants, and served on the defendants’ COVID-19 task force. He alleges that the defendants obtained the confidential health information of employees, including the identities of employees with preexisting conditions. He claims that the defendants had a goal of using the health information to target employees they believed to be at “high risk” and urge them to stay home and use their personal and vacation leave. The plaintiff claims he learned of the defendants’ plan when he was given a letter that would be sent to “high risk” employees. The plaintiff alleges that he reported his concerns with the letter and stated his opposition to misappropriating confidential health information in phone calls with his supervisor and with human resources. The plaintiff alleges that he informed the defendants that their conduct violated employees’ right to privacy and violated HIPAA. The plaintiff alleges that soon after he reported the defendants’ illegal conduct, he began receiving increased supervision, demands, and negative feedback and criticism. He claims that shortly thereafter, the defendants offered him a separation agreement, or alternatively, a reduced role with reduced responsibility and compensation. The plaintiff claims that he asked for details concerning the alternate role, but was not provided with any, and that the defendants then wrote him and stated that they were accepting his resignation. He brings claims for whistleblower retaliation; retaliation under ERISA and the ADA; breach of fiduciary duty; violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act; negligent hiring, training, and supervision; negligence; and intrusion upon seclusion.

Petrovski v. Helix Electric, Inc. (San Diego County, California)
The plaintiff was a 68 year-old electrical estimator. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in mid-March, the defendant told the plaintiff he would have to work from home. A few days later, the defendant allegedly told the plaintiff that “because of his age,” he was being placed on a temporary layoff until the COVID-19 pandemic was under control. On April 27, the defendant informed the plaintiff he was being terminated (but the complaint does not include the reason(s), if any, given for the termination). The plaintiff alleges that only he and one other employee, who the plaintiff believes is approximately 70 years old, were terminated. The plaintiff sued the defendant under California state law, alleging that his termination amounted to age discrimination and violated public policy.

August 25, 2020
Garcia v. Law Offices of Alexander E. Borell, P.A., et al. (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff, a paralegal, attended a family birthday party in June 2020 and then reported that she had been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff notified her manager that she needed to be tested and that her doctor had recommended she self-quarantine until she received her test results. The plaintiff alleges that the day after she notified her employer of her need to be tested and self-quarantine, she was terminated without reason. She also alleges that when she went for a job interview in the same building as the one housing defendant’s office, she was berated by the defendant for returning to the building. The plaintiff brings two claims one for interference with her rights under the FFCRA and a claim for retaliation under the FFCRA.

Vliet v. Wolverine Supply, Inc. (Washtenaw County, Michigan)
The plaintiff, a 68-year-old former bookkeeper and back office employee, filed suit against the defendant for age discrimination and wrongful termination under Michigan state law. The plaintiff alleges that in March 2020, her office was initially closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at which time she filed for unemployment benefits, assuming that she would not be paid until the office could reopen. However, the defendant was later deemed an “essential business,” the office reopened, and the defendant informed its workforce that they would continue to be paid. The plaintiff thereafter cancelled her request for unemployment benefits. The plaintiff alleges that after her supervisors found out that she had requested unemployment benefits, they berated her and shortly thereafter, the defendant terminated her. The plaintiff further alleges that she was replaced with a significantly younger employee. The plaintiff therefore claims that her termination violated Michigan’s age discrimination statute, and further that her termination for seeking unemployment benefits violated Michigan public policy. In addition to lost wages, among other monetary damages, the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief to prevent the defendant from “further acts of wrongdoing.”

Gomez v. Winebow, Inc. (Hudson County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff was a delivery driver and in late March 2020, began to experience symptoms of COVID-19. At an appointment on April 1, the plaintiff’s doctor told him to stay off work at least until April 3. The plaintiff continued to experience COVID-19 symptoms, and so stayed off work. The plaintiff’s next doctor’s appointment was on April 17, but in the interim, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant’s human resources department sent him “harassing” emails demanding updated notes from his doctor. At his April 17 appointment, the plaintiff’s doctor extended his leave through May 2. After hearing this news, the defendant’s human resources department allegedly demanded contact information for the plaintiff’s doctor. They then informed the plaintiff they had contacted his doctor, that they were scheduling him to work, and that if he was not at work the next day, he would be fired. After a discussion with the plaintiff’s union, the defendant said it would extend his leave to no longer than May 4. On May 1, the plaintiff visited his doctor again and, as he was still experiencing symptoms, his doctor again extended his leave through May 15. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant refused to grant this extension and terminated his employment on May 5. The plaintiff sued the defendant, bringing claims of retaliation for his use of leave under the FFCRA and for requesting an accommodation in the form of extended leave under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. 

August 24, 2020
Maher v. Nassau Health Care Corporation (Eastern District of New York)
The plaintiff, former chief financial officer for the defendant hospital, alleges that he was terminated in retaliation for refusing to certify false statements in an application for federal funding. The plaintiff alleges that he was tasked by the defendant with overseeing the preparation of a funding request to the federal government under the CARES Act, based upon the defendant’s provision of healthcare services to COVID-19 patients. As part of this funding request, the defendant was required to identify the number of COVID-19 patients in its care. The plaintiff alleges that after a consulting organization determined the number of COVID-19 patients to be 625, the defendant’s chairman demanded that the plaintiff falsely certify the number of COVID-19 patients to be 900. The plaintiff alleges that the chairman’s rationale was to allow the hospital to obtain more federal funds. After the plaintiff refused to certify the higher number, the hospital submitted the higher amount, and thereafter received $20 million in federal money. The plaintiff alleges that after he sent the defendant a letter regarding his whistleblower claims, his employment was terminated, in breach of his employment contract, which required 365-day notice for a termination without cause. The plaintiff claims that his retaliatory termination is not only a breach of his employment contract, but also a violation of the federal False Claims Act and New York Labor Law.

August 21, 2020
Jeffery Goldman v. Sol Goldman Investments, et al. (Southern District of New York)
The plaintiff, a 69-year old housing litigation attorney, filed this action after he was ordered to return to his office in June 2020, and he provided a doctor’s note indicating that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he should not return to the office or to court because of his many risk factors. The plaintiff alleges that he is particularly vulnerable because of his age and his proximity to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The plaintiff claims that in response to his request to work from home the employer responded, “You are our court attorney!!!!! Help!” The plaintiff asserts that his employer was the only company in its office building that fully returned to work, and that a co-worker had developed an asymptomatic case of COVID-19, which he claims would have killed him. Ultimately, the plaintiff claims that because he refused to put his life in danger by coming back to the office, he was terminated and replaced by a much younger employee. He has brought claims for age and disability discrimination and retaliation under New York state and city ordinances. 

Satanoff v. Cinder Bar Crosskeys, LLC, et al. (Camden County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a sous chef, alleges that he was retaliated against for engaging in protected activity in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). The plaintiff alleges that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendant converted to takeout-only service and between May and June 2020, the plaintiff “noticed that customers were sitting close together without masks, as required by law,” and that “employees in the kitchen were often not wearing masks.” The plaintiff claims that during the first week of July, the defendant was preparing to open for indoor dining, but “no one from upper management had trained anyone at the restaurant regarding safety procedures.” The plaintiff alleges that other employees were expressing worries about the lack of safety policy,” so he spoke to the general and the CEO about safety issues. He alleges that the CEO stated, “employees should be grateful for how well they have been treated,” and that the “pandemic was ‘overblown,’ that everyone ‘needed to get sick,’ and that the ‘only answer’ is ‘herd immunity.’” The plaintiff claims that on July 11, the CEO and executive chef “terminated [the] plaintiff’s employment” and purportedly told the plaintiff that “he did not have faith in the company,” “was not backing the company,” and that “the company was now going to ‘cut ties’ with the plaintiff and ‘move on.’” The plaintiff contends that his discharge was motivated in part by his protected conduct under the CEPA.

August 20, 2020
Allison Caskey v. Thomas E Moore D.D.S., P.C. (Jackson County, Missouri)
The plaintiff, an administrative assistant for a dentist’s office, claims wrongful termination under Missouri law. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that beginning March 12, 2020, she requested to stay home and not work, because she felt unsafe and did not want to work during the pendency of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff remained at home and filed for unemployment on or around March 16. The employer allegedly interpreted the plaintiff’s application for unemployment as a voluntary resignation and subsequently mailed her final paycheck. The plaintiff alleges that her termination was in violation of public policy because she “followed the stay at home order and remained at home.” The plaintiff further alleges that her wrongful termination resulted in a loss of pay and benefits and emotional distress. 

August 18, 2020 
Nicoll v. MadgeTech, Inc. (Merrimack County, New Hampshire)
The plaintiff, the defendant’s HR manager, alleges wrongful termination due to her efforts to provide for the safety of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. When an employee planned overseas travel, the plaintiff suggested that the trips be cancelled to protect employees, but the president denied the request. While the president was in Germany, the plaintiff allowed the employee returning from overseas to work remotely for 14 days. Also during this time, the plaintiff conveyed concerns about workplace safety from multiple managers to the president and advised him that CDC guidance indicated travelers from Germany should self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the U.S. The president responded: “I really don’t think you should be at MadgeTech when I am not there.” The plaintiff approved an employee’s request for leave to due to the closing of his child’s school, and asked the president how he wanted to handle pay in such situations. The president responded that he was concerned about how she was handling communications with employees, which he viewed as invoking panic, fear and helplessness. Following stay-at-home orders, the plaintiff emailed the president outlining the company’s options and obligations under new federal laws, and the next day, explained to a VP that the best practice would be to follow the CDC’s recommendations and have as few people at work as possible. The VP told the plaintiff the virus is “just a cold” and instructed her that the president wanted her to work remotely. On March 23, the plaintiff emailed the president about the FFCRA, and advised him that employees might seek to self-quarantine due to underlying health conditions. On March 27, the plaintiff was sent home because the president “couldn’t have the negativity” in the workplace, and when the plaintiff tried to defend her actions, the president terminated her.

Aguilar v. Europa USA, Inc. (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff, a restaurant employee, alleges violations of the FFCRA. The plaintiff alleges that he left work because he was suffering symptoms of COVID-19 and was instructed by his employer to get tested and stay home. The plaintiff alleges that he twice tested positive for COVID-19 and self-quarantined, and then tested negative for the virus. The plaintiff alleges that his employer terminated his employment, replaced him with other workers, and refused to pay him for the paid sick leave he was owed under the FFCRA. The plaintiff seeks an unspecified amount of damages for back pay, liquidated damages, pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest, compensatory and emotional distress damages, and an award of attorneys’ fees.

Jessica Dailey v. Linkus Enterprises LLC (Kern County, California)
The plaintiff alleges that she was wrongfully terminated as the defendant’s director of communications. According to the complaint, her daughter “suffers from dyslexia and other significant learning disabilities.” The plaintiff alleges that her daughter’s school and daycare closed due to COVID-19, and the defendant granted her two weeks of leave. The day before her leave was to end, the plaintiff informed the defendant of the need to continue her leave “given her daughter’s indefinitely extended school and daycare closures due to Covid-19.” The plaintiff alleges that the defendant terminated her employment the next day, but the complaint does not allege any reasons given for the termination. The plaintiff claims that “termination was in violation of fundamental, basic, and substantial public policies of the State of California, including, but not limited to, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act,” and brings claims for violation of the California Family Rights Act, the FMLA, the FFCRA and the FLSA.

Mejia v. Meadows Ridge Care Center LLC, et al. (Los Angeles County, California)
The plaintiff was a certified nurse assistant at a long-term care facility. She alleges that in early 2020, she and her colleagues began to suffer flu-like symptoms and as information concerning COVID-19 began to spread, some people started wearing masks to work. She alleges that she asked the defendant to provide PPE to its employees, and the administrator of the facility responded by ordering those wearing masks to take them off and warning employees that anyone wearing a mask would be terminated. The plaintiff claims that the facility eventually permitted employees to wear masks, but would not pay for them. The plaintiff further alleges that she and other employees were not told which patients were COVID-19-positive, and that when a colleague contracted COVID-19, the defendant ordered the colleague to continue working as usual and forbade them from informing anyone else. The plaintiff claims that she and her son contracted COVID-19, and that she was forced to use all of her accrued vacation and personal time to take days off while she was ill. She says the defendant told her that she was still expected to come to work while she was COVID-19-positive, as long as she did not have flu-like symptoms for 24 to 48 hours. The plaintiff alleges that she requested medical leave but the defendant told her she would be terminated if she didn’t return to work. The plaintiff claims that she was forced to choose between her life and her job, and thereby forced to resign. She brings various causes of action including discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination.

August 17, 2020
Saleba v. Medpace, Inc. (Southern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff, a 67-year-old research assistant, was among the employees laid off by the defendant in mid-April. The defendant told these employees that the layoffs were because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn. The laid-off employees were asked to sign a severance and release agreement; the plaintiff and several other employees signed his agreement. The plaintiff alleges that older workers were disproportionately impacted by the layoffs, and that one month after the layoffs, the defendant started recruiting younger employees to fill their positions. The plaintiff alleges that he attempted to register for a recruiting event held by the defendant to fill his former position, but the defendant would not permit him to register. The plaintiff brought a collective action for age discrimination under the ADEA, on behalf of himself and all other employees of the defendant “age 40 and over who have been terminated as part of a layoff since January 1, 2020, and as a result of [the defendant’s] unlawful actions.” The plaintiff alleges the release agreements he and other employees signed do not bar this lawsuit, as they purportedly did not comply with the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, and therefore do not  waive the age discrimination claim.

August 14, 2020
Baldyga v. Historical Properties, Inc., et al. (San Diego County, California)
The plaintiff, a general manager for a boutique hotel, alleges that he was retaliated against for following local orders issued by the San Diego Board of Supervisors and San Diego’s mayor regarding the closure of all bars and prohibition of onsite dining in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that in light of the local orders, he notified the employees that the defendant’s bar and restaurant would temporarily close to “determine the appropriate course of action to be legally compliant with all orders and safety guidelines.” The next day, the plaintiff was informed that his employment would be terminated and that the defendants were making a management change. After the plaintiff’s termination, the defendants informed the restaurant and bar employees that the plaintiff’s decision to “close the restaurant and bar until further notice” was not discussed with the appropriate people, and was premature. The plaintiff alleges that the termination of his employment constituted retaliation for his refusal to keep the restaurant and bar open despite the mandate of the local orders. 

Paul Gallagher v. Adams Building Services, et al. (Atlantic County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a security guard, claims wrongful termination and retaliation under state and federal law. He alleges that he was terminated after he reported his employer’s refusal to provide him emergency sick pay leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he sought a COVID-19 diagnosis from a medical provider who directed him to quarantine for 14 days. The plaintiff states that during the quarantine he requested emergency sick pay leave under the FFCRA, which his employer refused. The plaintiff claims that only after he contacted the DOL to report his employer’s refusal to provide him with sick paid leave did the employer agreed to provide him leave as requested. The day prior to the plaintiff’s scheduled return to work, the plaintiff alleges that his employer called him and told him not to return, and subsequently terminated his employment. The plaintiff does not allege the purported reasons given by his employer for terminating his employment, he claims the reasons were false, misleading and a pretext for disability or perceived disability discrimination. 

Casie Mahon v. Loving Pets Corp., et al. (Middlesex County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, an invoice specialist, alleges that she was wrongfully terminated in violation of New Jersey law after she complained about workplace safety. The plaintiff claims that after the governor declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was permitted to work from home until the week of April 13, when she was told she must return to the office. The plaintiff claims that she expressed concerns about returning to the office to her supervisor, and was ultimately told “that she had no choice and had to return to the office.” When the plaintiff returned to the office, she claims that surfaces were not being disinfected, social distancing was not being observed, and at least three employees had tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges she continued to complain to her supervisor about being required to come to the office rather than work remotely, and was told that her only options were to come to the office or use PTO and “unpaid family leave.” After meeting with her supervisor, the plaintiff emailed the owner to explain her decision to use PTO, reiterate her fears about being required to come to the office, and express her belief that the defendant was violating the governor’s stay at home order. The plaintiff claims that she was then laid off “due to lack of work,” which she understood to mean she had been terminated because of her objection to being required to work in the office. The plaintiff brings claims for violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act and New Jersey public policy. 

Ianello v. Methuen Construction Co., Inc. (Strafford County, New Hampshire)
The plaintiff was employed as a superintendent for a construction company. He alleges that an employee he supervised tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that when he notified his supervisor, he was instructed to wipe down surfaces on the jobsite, but the defendant had not distributed any directions or protocols for handling a COVID-19 exposure. The plaintiff further alleges that there were several employees who were not regulars on the site and had not been exposed to the COVID-19-positive employee, so he instructed those employees to stay home until they had more information. The plaintiff alleges that the project executive became upset after finding out that the plaintiff sent the unexposed workers home. The following day, he claims, the vice president visited the site and told the plaintiff that his decision to send employees home violated company protocols. The plaintiff alleges that he told the vice president the company had no protocols, and the vice president responded that his actions violated recommendations from the CDC. The plaintiff alleges that at the end of the conversation, he told the vice president that he was considering resigning his employment. The plaintiff claims that evening the vice president left him a voicemail asking if he was still considering resigning, the plaintiff emailed the vice president stating that he had not resigned, and the vice president informed him that the company had accepted his resignation. The plaintiff brings one cause of action for wrongful termination, and claims that the defendant terminated him in retaliation for sending employees home to prevent exposure to COVID-19. 

Worthen v. San Tan Montessori (Maricopa County, Arizona)
The plaintiff, a teacher, filed a breach of contract and wrongful termination complaint against her former employer, a Montessori school. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant terminated her after she complained that the school was not taking the proper COVID-19 safety measures. In particular, the plaintiff alleges that she first raised concerns internally about the school’s failure to abide by Arizona public health guidance. She then voiced her concerns over social media. Shortly thereafter, before the end of the school year, the defendant terminated her employment. In addition to breach of her employment agreement, the plaintiff claims that her wrongful termination was retaliation for raising concerns about workplace safety, in violation of Arizona law. The plaintiff seeks back pay, front pay, punitive and liquidated damages. 

August 13, 2020
Rebeor v. 300 Pearl Street Operations, LLC, et al. (Franklin County, Vermont)
The plaintiff, the senior director of admissions for clinical facilities, alleges that she was constructively discharged and retaliated against in violation of Vermont’s Parental Leave and Family Leave Act and Vermont’s Occupational and Safety Act. She further claims that she was discriminated against because of her disability, severe asthma, in violation of Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act. The plaintiff alleges that during the COVID-19 pandemic, her employer failed to “enforce standard pandemic-related safety measures,” as “patients and staff appeared at the facility without facial coverings and masks.” “Because of these circumstances, [the] plaintiff requested permission to work remotely, because she was very worried about exposure [to COVID-19].” The plaintiff alleges that she also provided her supervisor with a doctor’s note indicating that she was “high risk for COVID-19 infection because she has an active asthma condition.” That same day, the plaintiff’s supervisor granted her request to work remotely. The plaintiff claims that she worked remotely for just over a week before the “plaintiff's supervisor instructed plaintiff to cease working remotely from home and work exclusively from the center.” The plaintiff claims that she presented her doctor’s note indicating that she is “high risk” of contracting COVID-19, but her supervisor “refused to permit [the] plaintiff to work remotely from home, despite her ‘high risk’ condition,” and “gave her the choice of working from the center or employment dismissal.” The plaintiff claims that she was forced to involuntarily resign.

Heath v. nexAir, LLC (Aiken County, South Carolina)
The plaintiff worked as a truck driver for the defendant. The plaintiff knew that his supervisor’s son had been exposed to COVID-19 and had been ordered to quarantine, and so he asked his supervisor whether he had informed the defendant’s human resources department of his exposure to the COVID-19 virus via his son. The supervisor responded that he had. The plaintiff, concerned for his safety, called the defendant’s human resources department to inquire whether his supervisor should be at work since he had been exposed to the virus. The human resources department allegedly had no record of having been informed of the supervisor’s exposure. The plaintiff alleges that one week later, he was laid off, and that he was told by a vice president that his layoff was due to lack of work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges no other employees were laid off around that time, and that a newer employee he had been training was given his position. The plaintiff sued the defendant under South Carolina state law alleging his termination was in retaliation for talking to human resources about his supervisor’s exposure to the COVID-19 virus, in violation of public policy.

Tuberville v. Sunstates Security, LLC, et al. (Camden County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a security guard, alleges that he was discriminated against on the basis of a disability, in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and New Jersey public policy. The plaintiff alleges that his disability is the contraction of COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that on or about April 16, 2020, he “felt [unspecified] symptoms of the temporarily disabling condition of COVID-19,” and notified his employer. The plaintiff alleges that pursuant to his employer’s instructions and CDC guidance, he quarantined and was tested for COVID-19. Four days later, the plaintiff’s employment was terminated. The plaintiff claims his employment was terminated “because he contracted coronavirus (‘COVID-19’).”

August 12, 2020
Gannon v. Catholic Medical Center (District of New Hampshire)
The plaintiff was a nursing assistant at a medical center. She alleges that the defendant instructed her to stay off work for several days pending the results of her COVID-19 test, which ultimately came back negative. The plaintiff claims that approximately two weeks later, the defendant terminated her “due to excessive absenteeism.” She alleges that in calculating her absences, the defendant included the days when it had prohibited her from coming to work. Further, the plaintiff alleges that when she was terminated, the defendant failed to provide her with information concerning her right to elect coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The plaintiff brings causes of action for wrongful termination and violation of COBRA. 

Richardson v. Sitesol, et al. (Riverside County, California)
The plaintiff was employed by a general contracting company. He alleges that his initial offer letter stated that he would receive health insurance after 60 days of employment, but that the health benefits were never provided to him. The plaintiff claims that he and other employees began working from home around May 18, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that the company asked him to report to work in person starting on July 27. The plaintiff alleges that he wrote the company and told them that he would not report to work in person unless the company provided him with health coverage, as he was concerned he would contract COVID-19 if he reported to work in person and could not cover the medical costs on his own. He claims that the defendant terminated him the following day. The plaintiff brings claims for retaliation and wrongful termination, as well as various wage and hour violations. 

August 11, 2020
Stein, M.D. v. Hebrew Home for Aged Disabled d/b/a The San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, et al. (San Francisco County, California)
The plaintiff, a “nationally prominent geriatric psychiatrist” for a nursing home and psychiatric hospital, alleges that his employment was terminated due to his age, health, and for requesting an accommodation to practice telemedicine given his high risk of death if he contracted COVID-19. The plaintiff’s role involved seeing patients and providing administrative services to the facility. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants implemented a telecommuting policy in which no patient-facing staff would be allowed to work remotely. The plaintiff was advised by his physician that – due to his age (72) and his cardiovascular conditions – he should shelter in place in his residence and only provide services remotely. The plaintiff alleges that he presented telemedicine options to his employer, but his requests to work remotely were ignored. Instead, the defendants sent the plaintiff a letter threatening termination of his employment and purporting to rely on guidelines from regulatory agencies and the CDC. The plaintiff alleged that his termination letter stated that his refusal to work on the premises constituted a breach of his services agreement. The plaintiff alleges that his termination was discriminatory and retaliatory.

August 10, 2020
Camarota v. Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services, Inc. (McKinley County, New Mexico)
In early April 2020, the plaintiff learned that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19. He asked his superiors to keep his diagnosis confidential, and each of them allegedly agreed. The plaintiff subsequently discovered through conversations with coworkers that individuals whom he had not told knew about his diagnosis. On April 29, the plaintiff made an internal complaint with the defendant that his COVID-19 diagnosis had been shared in contravention of the defendant’s confidentiality policy and HIPAA. In response to the complaint, two investigations were conducted. The plaintiff believes that these investigations uncovered that his COVID-19 diagnosis was intentionally shared by a certain individual, in contravention of company policy. However, the defendant’s board of directors allegedly ordered yet another investigation, and this third investigation found that any sharing of the plaintiff’s COVID-19 diagnosis by this individual was accidental. Therefore, the individual who allegedly shared the plaintiff’s COVID-19 diagnosis was suspended instead of being terminated. The individual who was suspended for sharing the plaintiff’s COVID-19 diagnosis subsequently filed an internal HIPAA complaint against the plaintiff, which the plaintiff alleges was frivolous. The plaintiff then filed a complaint against this individual for retaliation. The plaintiff was terminated on July 8, allegedly relating to a complaint that had been filed against him months ago, which the plaintiff alleges was resolved. The plaintiff sued the defendant for a common law claim of invasion of privacy for allegedly sharing his COVID-19 diagnosis in contravention of HIPAA. The plaintiff also alleges the given reasons for his discharge are pretextual, and sued the defendant for retaliatory discharge for complaining about its violation of HIPAA.

Bruce v. Olde England's Lion & Rose Rim LLC dba The Lion & Rose British Restaurant; Allen Tharp (Western District of Texas)
The plaintiff, a general manager and bartender at the defendants’ restaurant, filed suit alleging violation of the FFCRA and the EPSLA. The plaintiff alleges that he began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and because he “had had close contact with two co-workers who had been diagnosed with COVID 19,” the plaintiff “was concerned that he may too have contracted the virus.” He sought testing that day, and quarantined for 10 days while awaiting the results. The plaintiff alleges he was concerned about informing the restaurant’s owner about his possible infection, because the owner “had accused the two co-workers of lying about their diagnoses to get the 4th of July weekend off.” The plaintiff tested negative, but when he asked for an explanation as to why he was not given sick pay during his quarantine, one of the defendants allegedly told him, “I don't have to pay you. I will pay you when you work.” According to the plaintiff, “just days later,” his employer terminated him, “citing pretextual reasons.” The plaintiff alleges “that he was actually discharged in retaliation for having taken FFCRA-qualifying leave and for having requested FFCRA sick pay for his absences.” 

Summers v. Olde England’s Lion & Rose Rim, LLC, et al. (Western District of Texas)
The plaintiff, a former bartender at the defendants’ restaurant, filed suit alleging violation of the FFCRA and the EPSLA. The plaintiff alleges that, after a friend and co-worker told him that he had tested positive for COVID-19, he called his supervisor to request the evening off work so that he could get tested. The plaintiff’s supervisor refused, and told the plaintiff to come to work. The plaintiff alleges that he then called the owner of the restaurant, who told the plaintiff not to come to work and get tested. The plaintiff alleges that he was tested for COVID-19, and that the test came back positive. Because of his self-quarantine, the plaintiff states, he did not go to work for several days. The plaintiff alleges that after several days off work, he attempted to log in to the restaurant’s online schedule system, but was denied access. The plaintiff claims that he later found out he had been terminated for not showing up to work. He alleges that his supervisor falsely claimed that he and his friend had faked testing positive for COVID-19 in order to get out of work for a weekend. Based upon these allegations, the plaintiff alleges claims for violation of the FFCRA and EPSLA.

August 9, 2020 
Seely v. BGW Animal Health, Inc. d/b/a Old Towne Animal Hospital, et al. (Sacramento County, California)
The plaintiff, a receptionist at a veterinarian’s office, alleges, among other things, that she was discriminated against on the basis of her mental disability in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and that the defendants allegedly refused to honor her request for a reasonable accommodation. The plaintiff alleges that her doctor “placed her off work, on modified activity” due to her exposure to COVID-19. The plaintiff expressed to her supervisor that her anticipated return to work would cause her anxiety. Upon her return to work, the plaintiff alleges she had a panic attack during lunch and that she had to see a doctor. The plaintiff’s supervisor allegedly told the plaintiff that “if she can’t wear a mask,” which was required due to COVID-19, then the plaintiff could not work. The plaintiff visited her doctor who issued a note “placing her off work” for an additional week. Prior to her return to work, the plaintiff requested a desktop fan at her work station, to blow air on her face while she wore a mask, and the defendants agreed. On her first day back to work, and the first day she was able to use the desktop fan, the plaintiff was allegedly terminated and told “something to the effect of: ‘You know how much we really love you, but with your time off, it just isn't going to work out and we have to let you go.’” The plaintiff alleges that her termination was discriminatory and based on her mental disability. 

August 7, 2020
Reznick v. Pacific Cardiovascular Associates Medical Group, Inc. (Orange County, California)
The plaintiff worked as a cardiologist for the defendant, a medical group. In March 2020, concerned about the spread of COVID-19, the plaintiff contacted the defendant’s president and explained he was concerned about continuing to work in the office because of his age (65) and medical conditions (hypertension and an aortic aneurysm). The plaintiff also explained that he was worried about exposing his wife to COVID-19 because she was 77 and had immunodeficiency syndrome. According to the complaint, the defendant agreed that the plaintiff could work from home “in any capacity using phone or telemedicine.” After eight weeks, the plaintiff noticed that the defendant had scheduled him to return to work. The plaintiff informed the defendant that he was not prepared to return to work, because of his wife’s condition, and the defendant allegedly responded that it was “adjusting [the plaintiff’s] schedule accordingly.” Two weeks later, the defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment, providing no reason. The plaintiff brought suit for, among other things, disability discrimination (based on his disability and his association with a disabled person, his wife); age discrimination (based on his age and his association with an older person, his wife); and retaliation for complaining about workplace safety, with regard to his allegation that the workplace posed a risk to the plaintiff and his wife. 

Alessi v. Miller & Gaudio, PC, et al. (Monmouth County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a paralegal with multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, alleges that her employment was terminated in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA). Following a firm-wide COVID-19 meeting, during which the plaintiff “inquired about the firm’s ability to telework” and expressed her concerns about the cleanliness of the office and the lack of cleaning products to clean and sanitize it, the plaintiff clams that she continued to inquire about her ability to telework. The plaintiff alleges that she engaged in CEPA-protected activity when, following the governor’s executive order that instructed businesses to accommodate telework where possible, the plaintiff expressed her concern about her health and returning to work. The plaintiff alleges that her employment was terminated because she expressed her concern about returning to work given her medical history and her request to work remotely. 

Anna Solano v. Professional Bureau of Collections of Maryland Inc. (Arapahoe County, Colorado) 
The plaintiff claims wrongful termination in violation of the public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine. On March 16, 2020, the plaintiff’s co-worker received a phone call from another co-worker who stated that her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. Later that day, the plaintiff learned that another co-worker had gone home sick and that co-worker’s husband had also tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff cites employee concerns about safety and the office’s lack of disinfectant wipes or disinfectant cleaner. The plaintiff claims that on the same days she heard of co-workers’ husbands testing positive for COVID-19 and her co-worker going home sick, she began to cough uncontrollably, and that her health suddenly began to deteriorate. The following morning, on March 17, the plaintiff woke up ill, and she took sick days March 17-18. The defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment on March 19, allegedly after she provided the defendant a note from her doctor stating that she was required to quarantine for 14 days. The plaintiff claims that her employment “was terminated for abiding by state and local guidelines regarding COVID-19,” and that the defendant’s actions were “willful and wanton, and/or were done with malice or with reckless indifference” to her protected rights. The plaintiff seeks economic damages, pre-judgment and post judgment interest, penalties, attorney fees, and other relief.

August 6, 2020
McShea v. Faulkner Volvo (District of New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a sales manager for an auto dealership, has a young son with a congenital heart defect that makes him particularly high-risk for COVID-19. In March 2020, the plaintiff complained to his boss, the chief operating officer for the defendant, that he did not feel the defendant was taking the pandemic seriously enough. The plaintiff expressed that he felt he was putting his son at risk by coming to work at the dealership, where many employees were not taking precautions against COVID-19. He asked if he could work remotely, but his request was denied. Then, on March 20, the governor issued a shutdown order which required the defendant to close its doors to the public due to the pandemic. The plaintiff was still required to report in-person for work, even though the dealership was not open to the public. On March 26, the plaintiff again complained about what he felt were inadequate safety measures, and again requested to work remotely due to his son’s susceptibility to COVID-19. Two days later, on March 28, the plaintiff was furloughed, and the chief operating officer allegedly told the plaintiff to “spend his time looking for a new job.” The defendant allegedly terminated the plaintiff before the furlough period ended, and told him that it was for “performance reasons.” The plaintiff was the only manager terminated. The plaintiff sued the defendant, alleging that the reasons given for his termination are pretextual, and that his termination was really retaliation for requesting leave to care for his son under the FMLA and the FFCRA. The plaintiff also makes a claim under the ADA and state law for discrimination based on his son’s disability.

August 5, 2020
Christina M. Joyner & Felicia Ann Harper v. Intermodal Cartage Co., LLC (Middle District of Tennessee)
The plaintiffs, two logistic company employees, brought suit alleging that their employer did not follow required hygienic practices in the workplace in response to COVID-19, terminated them while they were on FFCRA paid sick leave, and discriminated against them because they are women. Both plaintiffs requested paid sick leave, and while on paid sick leave were told that they were being terminated for lack of work. They allege that the defendant permitted “male workers to take leave for COVID issues and to work from home but would not allow Plaintiffs to do so.” The plaintiffs plead claims for violation of the FFCRA requirement to provide paid sick leave; violation of the Tennessee Disability Act; violation of the FMLA; violation of the sex discrimination provisions of the Tennessee Human Rights Act; and failure to pay for accrued vacation pay pursuant to company policy. 

Clements v. The Salon People Consulting Group (Pinnelas County, Florida)
The plaintiff alleges that he was “terminated with extreme prejudice” in “an ambush fashion” when he told his employer that he had been exposed to COVID-19, was experiencing symptoms and was seeking a diagnosis. He also alleges that his employer “repeatedly demanded to know if Plaintiff was ‘contagious’ before being permitted to return to work,” but that while the plaintiff was “unable to provide particulars regarding whether he was ‘contagious,’” he did inform the defendant of his symptoms. The plaintiff’s sole claim is for violation of the FFCRA. He seeks $53,592 plus attorney’s fees and costs. 

August 2, 2020
Branch v. Korman Communities (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, a benefits specialist, alleges that her employment was terminated because of her race in violation of Section 1981. On March 10, 2020, a week before the plaintiff and other members of the payroll and human resources teams began working remotely, the plaintiff claims that two white females were hired to work. Shortly after, the plaintiff was told she was being laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that two days after the layoff, the defendant informed the plaintiff that her position was being eliminated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that she was the only non-white member of the defendant’s payroll and human resources teams, and that she was the only payroll and human resources team member whose position was eliminated. The plaintiff claims that the elimination of her position was motivated by her race. 

July 31, 2020
Sweitzer v. JRK Residential Group, Inc. (Pierce County, Washington)
The plaintiff was hired on March 12, 2020 as a leasing agent for the defendant. The plaintiff alleges that on March 18, the governor of Washington issued an emergency proclamation prohibiting certain residential evictions, including a prohibition on serving 14-day notices to pay or vacate. The plaintiff alleges that on March 24, management directed her to communicate to residents that rent must be paid on time or late fees would accrue and the residents’ credit would be ruined. The plaintiff alleges that she voiced her objection to these communications. Further, the plaintiff claims that she raised safety concerns and specifically asked the leasing manager if safety masks and gloves would be provided to the staff. The plaintiff claims that on March 31, she again raised safety concerns specifically about giving in-person tours. The plaintiff claims that she was told that “no one is going to sit here and just collect a pay check,” and that the staff needed to “step up their game” or they would be terminated. The plaintiff alleges that on April 9, the defendant issued notices to pay or vacate to residents who owed unpaid rent, in violation of the governor’s emergency proclamation. The plaintiff claims that she was terminated on April 21 in retaliation for raising health and safety concerns and for objecting to the unlawful communications to tenants. 

July 30, 2020
Yolanda Owens v. Teeturtel, LLC (St. Louis County, Missouri)
The plaintiff claims wrongful termination under Missouri law, alleging that she was fired for making complaints to her employer about working conditions at the employer’s warehouse. Specifically, the plaintiff contends that in March 2020, the water supply to the warehouse was unexpectedly shut off, preventing employees from washing their hands and creating a safety hazard in light of COVID-19. The plaintiff claims that she notified the defendants of the situation, but received no response, and as a result, “made an executive decision to let the employees go home.” The plaintiff also alleges that a few days after the water shutoff incident, she also complained about the warehouse’s insulation, which had fallen and “was clogging the air vents and exhaust fan.” The plaintiff claims that after making the aforementioned complaints, she was terminated. The plaintiff alleges that her termination was in retaliation for her reports about the working conditions. 

July 29, 2020
Karkocinski v. Shelby Pointe Management LLC (Macomb County, Michigan)
The plaintiff, the former director of property management for the defendant property management company, asserts a one count complaint for allegedly wrongful termination in violation of Michigan public policy. The plaintiff alleges that, although her work duties of in-person property showings to individuals interesting in leasing properties owned by the defendant were non-essential under the governor’s COVID-19 stay-at-home executive order, the defendant required her to continue showing and leasing property in person. The plaintiff alleges that several days after she informed the defendant that she would not violate the governor’s order, the defendant terminated her under the allegedly false pretense that she had failed to show up to work for two consecutive days without notice. The plaintiff thus asserts that she was terminated in violation of public policy and seeks lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages. 

Libassi v. Endoscopy Center of Ocean County, P.C., et al. (Ocean County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, an endoscopy technician, claims that in March 2020, her employer closed its practice and furloughed employees, including the plaintiff, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of May, the plaintiff’s employer invited its employees to return to work on June 1. The plaintiff informed her supervisor “that she was unable to return to work until the first week of August because her children were home from school and without child care.” The plaintiff’s supervisor allegedly referred the plaintiff to another supervisor, who never responded to the plaintiff’s request for leave. A few days later, the employer communicated to its employees that it was exempt from the EFMLA because it had fewer than 50 employees. The plaintiff inquired again with her supervisor about what type of leave she would be entitled to take. Her supervisor purportedly responded that “her hands are tied” and that if the plaintiff did not return to work, her employment would be terminated. The plaintiff did not return to work and her employment was subsequently terminated. The plaintiff alleges that she was wrongfully terminated in violation of the New Jersey Family Leave Act and EFMLA. 

Oldroyd, et al. v. Best Choice Roofing (Montgomery County, Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, a door to door salesman, was temporarily laid off on March 14, 2020 due to COVID-19. On March 20 he applied for unemployment insurance, and on May 1 his employer was notified of the unemployment insurance claim. Upon learning of the claim, the managing member of the defendant is alleged to have exclaimed “oh that mother*cker I can’t believe he filed for unemployment I am going to fire him,” or words to that effect. He then purportedly sent the plaintiff a text message that the company “has received your application for unemployment and separation. We are sorry to see you go. We thank you for your time with us, and will assist you in finding new employment if you need our help. Have a safe day.” The plaintiff alleges that this was a termination in violation of public policy and seeks monetary damages in excess of $50,000.

July 28, 2020
Sumeet Nain et al. v. Lynnes Nissan City, Inc. et al. (Essex County, New Jersey)
The plaintiffs, car salespeople, claim wrongful termination under New Jersey law, stemming from their refusal to report to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs allege that their employer violated the governor’s executive order mandating all non-essential retail businesses to close their brick-and-mortar stores and that car dealerships could perform only maintenance and repairs, and could only do so by allowing customers to schedule in-person showroom appointments. The plaintiffs allege that they complained about the in-person showroom appointments to their supervisors and to the state of New Jersey, and refused to report to work. The plaintiffs contend that the employer terminated their employment in retaliation for their purportedly protected activity. 

Randall v. Garrison Healthcare, LP (Eastern District of Texas)
The plaintiff was the director of social services at a nursing home. She alleges that on April 22, 2020, a resident coughed directly into her face while she was transferring the resident from a bed to a wheelchair. The plaintiff claims that the following week, she was told that the resident tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that on May 1, all employees were tested for COVID-19, and that on May 5, her supervisor called and told her that her test was positive for the virus. She claims that her supervisor told her that she would be paid while off work. The plaintiff alleges that on May 27, she called and requested to return to work on June 8, the date her doctor approved her to return to work. The plaintiff alleges that she was then told that she would have to use her PTO starting from a second negative COVID-19 test. Because the plaintiff’s second negative test was on May 24, she would have been required to use 80 hours of PTO to return on June 8. The plaintiff alleges that she had only accrued 12 hours of PTO, and was therefore required to exhaust it, and was told that she would not be paid for the remaining time she was off work. The plaintiff claims that she informed the defendant that it was legally required to pay her under the FFCRA. She further alleges that on June 5, she texted her supervisor stating that she was ready to return on June 8. She claims her supervisor called her and stated that the defendant was not able to move forward with her employment because she did not return to work when she was able to do so. The plaintiff brings causes of action for violation of the FFCRA and violation of the FLSA.

July 24, 2020
Rodriguez v. SMA Distributors, LLC, et al. (Nassau County, New York)
The plaintiff worked as a manager until her discharge. She alleges that, on or about April 18, 2020, she experienced COVID-19 symptoms while at work and that, pursuant to the governor’s executive order, she notified the defendants that she would need to self-quarantine. A week later, the plaintiff advised the defendants that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and would remain in self-quarantine. She also explained that the executive order required her to have two negative COVID-19 tests before she could return to work. On May 2, the plaintiff informed the defendants that she had tested negative for COVID-19 twice, and that she would be returning to work on May 6. The defendants allegedly responded that they had “already arranged for new help” and “wished her luck.” The plaintiff sued for violations of New York state law, including disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation for taking protected leave. 

July 23, 2020
Timothy Burkhard v. City of Plainfield et al. (Union County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a firefighter, claims racial discrimination under New Jersey state law stemming from a co-worker’s alleged racial comments related to his Asian-American ethnicity. The plaintiff alleges that during a training on COVID-19 attended by the plaintiff’s department, one of the defendants allegedly made racist comments to the plaintiff about Asians, and asked if the plaintiff had visited Wuhan, China, recently while squinting his eyes. The plaintiff contends that the defendant’s conduct was witnessed by no less than 19 firefighters, including five lieutenants and the fire chief, none of whom objected to the conduct. As a result, the plaintiff claims he was subjected to gross discriminatory conduct resulting in a hostile work environment. 

Dunn v. Hamra Enterprises, et al. (Northern District of Illinois)
The plaintiff worked as the regional director of facilities at a restaurant franchisee. He alleges that he made a written complaint to human resources detailing that he and his team were required to work in unsafe conditions. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he complained that when their worksite was relocated, he and his team were then required to use the restroom and wash their hands at a restaurant next to their office where the general manager had tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff complained that the restaurant they were required to use was not closed for deep cleaning and sanitation despite the confirmed diagnosis of the manager. Additionally, the plaintiff alleges that he complained that his team was forced to work long hours as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but were not paid any overtime. He alleges that the company informed him that he was being terminated because the company was eliminating his position, but that he was actually fired in retaliation for voicing his concerns about safety and overtime. The plaintiff brings causes of action for retaliation in violation of the FLSA and retaliatory discharge in violation of Illinois law.

Gates v. Lejeune Motor Company dba Lejeune Honda Cars (Eastern District of North Carolina)
The plaintiff, a parts and service manager at an automobile dealership, alleges violation of the FFCRA and the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act. The plaintiff alleges she requested leave due to the closure of her son’s school in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While on leave, the plaintiff alleges that she worked intermittently both at home and in person, and that she did not receive compensation for the work she performed while on FFCRA leave. The plaintiff was told she would be demoted to the position of service writer due to her alleged poor performance. The plaintiff disputed the data that was used to support her alleged poor performance as inaccurate. The plaintiff alleges that the demotion constituted retaliation for using FFCRA leave and that the defendant violated the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act by failing to pay her earned wages while on leave. 

Otteh v. Sundance Memory Care (Harris County, Texas)
The plaintiff was a nurse working for the defendant, an assisted living facility. According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s facility served a primarily elderly population who, it later became clear, was particularly susceptible to the COVID-19 virus. Indeed, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant’s facility was accepting patients who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and were required to quarantine. In addition, according to the plaintiff, the defendant required its nurses to re-use single-use PPE equipment such as protective gowns. Such PPE equipment was allegedly required to be used by the nurses over multiple shifts, so that different nurses would allegedly have to re-use the same equipment. When the plaintiff refused to re-use single-use PPE, she was terminated. The plaintiff sued the defendant under Texas state law for wrongful termination and retaliation for reporting an alleged violation of the law to the defendant.

July 22, 2020
Delgadillo v. Arthur J. Gallagher Service Company, LLC, et al. (Orange County, California)
The plaintiff, the sole African American employee of the defendant, alleges that she was “discriminated against, harassed, retaliated against and ultimately terminated due to her disability and/or perceived disability, for taking CFRA/FMLA leave, her age, her race/national origin, and for filing for workers’ compensation.” The plaintiff alleges that she took several medical leaves of absence for surgeries related to a serious medical condition, with her first medical leave of absence in 2017. The plaintiff alleges that her supervisor would “continually harass [her] about when she was going to return to work despite being on a medical leave of absence.” The plaintiff claims that when she returned from one medical leave, her workload increased “beyond what a normal employee would be assigned” and that the “increased workload was in hopes for [the] plaintiff to fail and create a pretext in which to terminate her employment.” The plaintiff alleges that she was “subsequently reprimanded for her performance despite being an assigned an unreasonable amount of work.” On May 1, the employer informed the plaintiff that she was being terminated effective May 15, citing “COVID-19 as the reason for her termination.” The plaintiff alleges that the employer’s reliance on COVID-19 as the reason for her termination is pretextual, because the plaintiff was the only employee terminated due to COVID-19.

Voznesensky v. Peninsula Convalescent Associates, LLC dba Carlmont Gardens Nursing Center et al. (San Mateo County, California) 
The plaintiff, a nurse educator and supervisor, alleges that her employment was terminated after she tested positive for COVID-19. Before the plaintiff was cleared by her doctor to return to work, the plaintiff’s employment was terminated, allegedly due to a decrease in patient occupancy. The plaintiff claims that before the defendant terminated her employment, she had requested to wear a mask while performing her job. She alleges that the defendant denied her requests and told her that wearing a mask would not be reassuring to the patients. The plaintiff alleges that she was terminated due to her illness, disability and perceived disability of having COVID-19. Based on the same facts, the plaintiff also alleges wrongful termination in violation of California public policy. 

July 21, 2020
Vigilance v. Bridge Street Development Corporation, et al. (Eastern District of New York)
The plaintiff, a human resources employee, alleges that she was terminated in retaliation for opposing the defendants’ violation of New York’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order. The plaintiff alleges that despite the fact that other employees performing similar duties to those performed by the plaintiff were allowed to work from home, the defendants refused to allow the plaintiff to work from home. The plaintiff alleges that she was a non-essential employee, and that the defendants’ refusal was a clear violation of New York’s public health order. The plaintiff claims that her request to work from home, and the defendants’ denial, created significant tension between her and the defendants, and that the tension led to the defendants terminating her employment. In addition to her COVID-19 retaliation claim, the plaintiff asserts several wage and hour violations against the defendant, seemingly unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, the plaintiff alleges that the defendants improperly classified her as exempt, and as a result violated both the FLSA and New York Labor Law by failing to pay her overtime wages. The plaintiff also alleges that the defendants violated state law by failing to provide her with accurate wage statements, failing to provide her with proper notice of her wage rate, and failing to pay her the severance owed to her upon termination. Among other things, the plaintiff seeks her unpaid wages, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees. 

Corina DePhillips v. Johnson Peerless Inc. (Southern District of Texas)
The plaintiff, who worked for the defendant (a provider of laundry and dry cleaning services) as a garment presser for the brief period of Feb. 6 through July 15, 2020, claims violations of the FFCRA and the FLSA. Specifically, the plaintiff says that on July 6 she notified her supervisor that she and her husband were experiencing “COVID-like symptoms” (and that “she was feeling very sick, had a bad headache, a bad cough, severe congestion, was feverish, achy, fatigued and having body cramps”). The plaintiff reportedly told her supervisor that she and her husband had been advised by a healthcare professional to self-quarantine. The plaintiff’s husband received test results positive for COVID-19 on or about July 10, and the plaintiff and her husband were advised by the local health department to continue to self-quarantine through at least July 20. The plaintiff claims that when she reported this news to her supervisor, and requested sick leave pursuant to the FFCRA, her supervisor “responded with anger, accusing Plaintiff of lying, telling Plaintiff that she couldn’t possibly be positive for COVID so soon and – completely ignoring the fact that [the plaintiff] was experiencing symptoms – demanded strict proof.” The plaintiff received her COVID-19 positive test result on July 15. When the plaintiff contacted her employer, she was reportedly told that she would “not be paid for the days she was out while experiencing symptoms and waiting for her test results,” and was also fired. The plaintiff alleges wrongful termination, unpaid wages and retaliation under the FFCRA and FLSA, and seeks reinstatement, compensation and benefits, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees.

Haring v. HD Industries LLC dba Home Instead Senior Care #805 (Multnomah County, Oregon)
The plaintiff held the position of office manager for the defendant, “a for-profit company that provides in-home senior care services.” She alleges that while she was pregnant, she was demoted “from a management position” to the position of scheduling coordinator, when the defendant’s new ownership was announced. According to the plaintiff, she was demoted due to her pregnancy. She also claims that her prior office manager position would have permitted her to perform her job remotely when the governor issued a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon her return from maternity leave, however, the plaintiff was required to return to work in person due to her new scheduling coordinator position, “thereby potentially exposing herself and her newborn child” to COVID-19. The plaintiff refused to return to work in person and alleges she was not permitted to work remotely, but was instead terminated. She brings a claim for pregnancy discrimination in violation of Oregon law.

Hill and Balzano v. K & D Petroleum, Inc. (Southern District of Indiana)
The plaintiffs, gas station cashiers, bring a complaint for violations of the FFCRA. The plaintiffs are “close friends and next door neighbors, and “spend significant amounts of time together.”  The daughter of one of the plaintiffs “began to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19,” and because both of the plaintiffs “spent significant time” with and “had significant exposure to” the daughter “in the days and weeks” prior to her becoming symptomatic, they reported their potential exposure to the defendant and began to self-quarantine in March 2020.  The plaintiffs each sought leave under the FFCRA, but allege that the defendant “violated the provisions of the FFCRA by failing to pay [them] any paid leave whatsoever during each Plaintiff’s period of COVID-19 quarantine.” One of the plaintiffs resigned her employment, while the other planned to return to work in April 2020, but was terminated.  The plaintiff claims her termination violated the FFCRA. Wholly unrelated to their claims regarding COVID-19, the plaintiffs bring additional claims for wage and hour violations. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants illegally deducted any cash register shortages from their paychecks, purportedly in violation of the FLSA, and the Indiana Wage Claims Statute.  The plaintiffs also claim that the defendant failed to pay them for all hours worked and failed to pay one of the plaintiffs overtime to which she was entitled.

July 20, 2020
Aguilera v. Healthpointe Medical Group, Inc. (Los Angeles County, California)
The plaintiff suffered two separate work-related injuries in 2019—one in March and another in September. Her employer allegedly failed to properly report either injury so that the plaintiff could receive workers’ compensation benefits. The plaintiff was thus forced to seek treatment on her own, and she did so. The plaintiff’s doctor placed work restrictions on her. After she presented these work restrictions to the defendant, the plaintiff’s boss and her co-workers allegedly began harassing her. For instance, the plaintiff’s boss began tracking her work and productivity closely, which he did not do for any other employee. The plaintiff also allegedly suffered jokes and insults about her injuries and accommodations from co-workers, and, although she reported these instances to human resources, nothing was done about it. The plaintiff was laid off on March 27, purportedly as a result of staffing cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges this reason was pretextual, and sued the defendant under California state law for unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and harassment based on her alleged disability and her request for workers’ compensation benefits.

Thomasson v. Sentinel Transportation, LLC (Kern County, California)
The plaintiff had suffered from frequent nausea and headaches from the time he started working for the defendant in 2018. He had taken leaves of absence in late 2019 and in April 2020 due to these symptoms. The symptoms worsened in June 2020, and the plaintiff left work early on June 12, allegedly due to severe headaches and nausea. The plaintiff claims that the next day, was a scheduled day off for the plaintiff. The plaintiff scheduled a doctor’s appointment for June 14 for his worsening symptoms, and was advised to stay home from work on June 14 and June 15, in part because the doctor feared the plaintiff may have COVID-19. On June 13, the plaintiff’s scheduled day off, he texted a picture of the doctor’s note requesting that the plaintiff take off June 14 and 15 to the defendant. The defendant approved those two days off for the plaintiff. The plaintiff was diagnosed with diabetes at his June 14 doctor’s appointment, and approved to return to work on June 16. However, when the plaintiff returned on June 16, the defendant suspended and later terminated his employment, allegedly for providing false information to the defendant.  Specifically, the plaintiff had driven to Nevada on June 13 with his brother. According to the plaintiff, however, the trip to Nevada was on his scheduled day off—and he attended his doctor’s appointment the next day as he said he would. The plaintiff alleges the defendant’s stated reason for terminating him is pretextual. Among violations of other laws, he asserts several causes of action under California law based on the defendant’s alleged retaliation for his need to use protected sick leave under the California Family Rights Act, for using his accrued sick leave under the defendant’s policy.

July 17, 2020
Floyd v. Alonzoe Zapp d/b/a Cutting Edge Lawn Care (Southern District of Indiana)
The plaintiff alleges that he sought and received a COVID-19 test and was advised by his doctor to self-quarantine for a week. The plaintiff alleges that the self-quarantine order triggered the defendant’s obligation to provide the plaintiff leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)). The plaintiff alleges that after the week of self-quarantine, he asked the defendant about reporting back to work, but that the defendant responded that it no longer needed the plaintiff, and terminated his employment. The plaintiff claims that the defendant “took adverse employment actions” against the plaintiff “because of his statutorily protected conduct.” 

Ledyard v. JAG-OB, LLC (Orangeburg County, South Carolina)
The plaintiff, a service advisor for a car dealership, alleges that she was wrongfully terminated for self-quarantining, and that she was not paid all wages due upon termination.  The plaintiff alleges that when she advised the defendant of what she thought were symptoms of COVID-19, the defendant advised her to get tested and remain quarantined until the results came back.  The plaintiff alleges that she voiced her concerns of not being paid during her self-quarantine with her supervisor, but was assured that she would continue to be paid while remaining home.  Several weeks later, the plaintiff’s COVID-19 tests returned negative, and she returned to work with a doctor’s note excusing her for the time she spent in quarantine awaiting the test results. On the day of her return, the plaintiff alleges that she was terminated without explanation.  The plaintiff alleges further that, despite assurances that she would be paid, the defendant did not pay her on her regular payday.  When the defendant finally did pay her, the Plaintiff alleges that her check was more than $1,000 less than the normal amount.  The plaintiff claims that her termination violates South Carolina law prohibiting termination of employees for quarantining, and that the reduced pay in her final paycheck violated the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act.

Nasr v. Paul Miller Motors, LLC (Essex County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff worked as a sales representative for the defendant, a car dealership. In March 2020, New Jersey’s Governor declared a public emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and issued an emergency stay-at-home order. In response, the defendant closed its business and furloughed the plaintiff. In late April 2020, the defendant recalled the plaintiff to work. After hearing rumors that other employees believed they had COVID-19, the plaintiff obtained a COVID-19 test on May 10, 2020, and worked on May 11 and 12, 2020 while awaiting the results. The plaintiff learned mid-day on May 12 that he tested positive for COVID-19, and that he should self-quarantine. He left work and notified his manager of his diagnosis and his need to take time off from work. The next day, the plaintiff alleges that members of the defendant’s management team called him at home, asked him about his diagnosis, symptoms, and the reason for being tested. After he explained the circumstances that led him to obtain a COVID-19 test, the plaintiff said he would need to take several weeks off from work. The defendant called the plaintiff the next day and requested proof his positive COVID-19 test, which the plaintiff provided.  The next day, the defendant allegedly told the plaintiff it was terminating his employment because he tested positive for COVID-19 and caused the defendant to close for several days to clean the facility and lose money. The plaintiff sued for retaliation in violation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and two New Jersey laws that require employers to provide protected leave to employees who contract COVID-19 and that require employers to accommodate employees who seek a leave as a reasonable accommodation.

Ruiz v. Ebet, Inc. (Passaic County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, an employee in the shipping and delivery division, alleges disability discrimination, perceived disability discrimination, and retaliation in violation of the New Jersey Law, and interference with his rights under the FFCRA.   The plaintiff claims that he was hospitalized on March 17 and tested positive for COVID-19, which he alleges constitutes a disability under New Jersey law.  According to the plaintiff, he was provided with a doctor’s note excusing him from work until April 16.  While the plaintiff was off work, he utilized all of his accrued sick and vacation time.  The plaintiff claims that on April 16, the plaintiff again tested positive for COVID-19, and was instructed by his doctor to self-quarantine for another two weeks.  The plaintiff alleges that when he returned to work after the two-week quarantine, he was terminated by his supervisor, and that he “was not provided a reason for the termination.”  The plaintiff alleges that a “determinative and/or motivating factor in plaintiff’s termination was his disability,” “defendant’s perception that [the plaintiff] was disabled,” “plaintiff’s . . . protected activity;” and “to interfere with benefits plaintiff was entitled to under the FFCRA.”

July 16, 2020
Caro v. The Athenaeum of Ohio (Hamilton County, Ohio)
The plaintiff worked as communications director for the defendant. In March 2020, pursuant to the governor’s order, the defendant closed down. The plaintiff is the mother of a 9-year old son, whose school was also closed as a result of the governor’s order. When the defendant announced to its employees it would reopen in early May, the plaintiff reached out to her boss and asked about options for working parents, since her son’s school had closed and she did not have other options to care for him. The plaintiff’s boss allegedly responded that he expected the plaintiff to be at work like everyone else. The plaintiff responded that Congress had passed the FFCRA to cover situations like hers. Rather than responding to the plaintiff’s inquiry about the FFCRA, the defendant terminated the plaintiff the next day, telling her that it was due to a “restructuring” of her position. The plaintiff alleges this reason is pretextual, and sued the defendant for violating the EFMLEA when it denied her request for leave to care for her son, and also for retaliation under the EFMLEA for terminating her after she requested leave.

July 15, 2020
Leibensperger v. Weldship Corporation (Lehigh County, Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff was a supervisor at a manufacturer of trailers and ISO containers. He alleges that at the end of March and beginning of April 2020, he made several complaints to the company’s owner as well as the plant manager about the lack of COVID-19-related PPE. The plaintiff alleges that the owner and plant manager told him that the company was not required to provide masks or to require employees to utilize them. He claims that the company eventually began providing masks but did not require employees to wear them and did not provide hand sanitizer or institute any procedures to maintain the cleanliness of the facility. He alleges that 80 to 90 percent of employees did not wear masks. The plaintiff claims that in mid-to-late April 2020, he sent an email regarding his concerns about safety at the facility to the human resources representative. He claims that the human resources representative responded that employees should be required to wear masks and that she would follow up regarding the cleanliness at the facility. The plaintiff claims that nothing was done—that masks were not required and no additional cleaning was performed. He claims that he continued to discuss his concerns with human resources. The plaintiff alleges that in May 2020, the owner contacted him and said that he was tired of him “stirring the pot” and that he was laying the plaintiff off permanently. The plaintiff brings one cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. 

Loeb v. Vantage Custom Classics et al. (Essex County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, the chief operating officer of the company, filed a complaint against the company and its CEO claiming that he was terminated in retaliation for insisting that the company follow guidelines and executive orders to keep workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to the plaintiff, his termination violated the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The plaintiff alleges that when he first expressed concerns about COVID-19 and its potential effects in a management meeting that included the CEO, the CEO did not take his concerns seriously. According to the plaintiff, after he continued to express concerns about worker safety, the CEO reluctantly agreed to set up a task force to establish worker safety protocols, but the CEO delayed notifying employees about the protocols because the CEO feared the protocols would encourage workers to stay home.  According to the plaintiff, the CEO also resisted the plaintiff’s other efforts to keep workers safe, such as allowing office employees to work from home full-time, refusing to allow temperatures to be taken of workers entering the factory, and not properly notifying employees when a worker tested positive for COVID-19. Shortly after the plaintiff insisted (for a second time) that employees be notified about a worker who tested positive for COVID-19, the plaintiff was terminated.

Mayer v. Vibrant Express, Inc. et al. (Cuyahoga County, Ohio)
The plaintiff, a 67-year-old line haul driver, filed a two-count complaint against the company and one of its supervisors claiming that he was terminated because of his age in violation of the Ohio Civil Rights Act. According to the plaintiff, he was told on April 22, 2020 that he was on temporary layoff due to evolving government recommendations in light of COVID-19. Subsequently, on May 1, 2020, the plaintiff was informed that instead of a temporary layoff, he was being terminated as a result of downsizing. The plaintiff alleges that immediately after his termination, the company continued to hire substantially younger drivers. 

July 14, 2020 
Xavier Gomes v. Pitney Bowes, Inc. (District of Connecticut)
The plaintiff, a machine operator, claims his termination violated the FMLA. In early March, the plaintiff began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and sought medical treatment.  Although the plaintiff’s doctor believed he had COVID-19, due to limited testing available at that time, his doctor instructed him to self-quarantine for two weeks. The plaintiff notified his employer of the diagnosis and quarantined as instructed.  Approximately one week into the quarantine, the plaintiff received a letter from his employer notifying him that he was terminated as a result of accruing excess attendance points for his absences.  The plaintiff alleges he was retaliated against for attempting to exercise his rights under the FMLA.

Street v. Arvco Container Corp. (Western District of Michigan)
The plaintiff worked as a split shift supervisor. In late March 2020, the plaintiff’s healthcare provider diagnosed him as an “unconfirmed positive” for COVID-19 and ordered him to quarantine for seven days. When the plaintiff’s healthcare provider extended this quarantine by an additional seven days (based on an unconfirmed positive phone screening and the plaintiff’s wife’s contact with a confirmed positive person), the defendant terminated his employment, citing a “position elimination.” The plaintiff challenged this explanation as pretextual and threatened to sue. The defendant responded by notifying the plaintiff that he was being furloughed, and that the defendant expected to end the furlough in a month (May). The defendant did not return the plaintiff to his position in May or June, though it returned other employees to work in those months. He brought suit against his employer for, among other claims, violating the FFCRA and wrongfully terminating his employment in violation of public policy.

July 13, 2020
Roginska, et al. v. Holzinger, et al. (New Britain, Connecticut)
The plaintiffs, two dental hygienists, filed this action alleging that their employer, a dental office, planned to bring them back to work performing dental cleaning in May 2020 after temporarily closing in response to COVID-19. Each of the plaintiffs alleges that they complained that the PPE being provided was insufficient and not in compliance with state standards, and that the dental office was not planning on allowing for additional time between cleaning appointments as recommended. When the two raised these issues, the reopening for hygienic appointments was postponed. Several weeks later, the two plaintiffs heard that the office was going to start with hygienic appointments in late June. When they called to find out if they would be expected to report to work, they were informed that they had been terminated and replaced with other dental hygienists. Each plaintiff pleads two claims: one for violation of Connecticut’s free speech rights; and a second for common law wrongful discharge. 

Summers v. Georgia Behavioral Health Professionals (Northern District of Georgia) 
The plaintiff, a transcranial magnetic stimulation coordinator who suffers from asthma, alleges that her employment was terminated in violation of the ADA. On three occasions, the defendant asked the plaintiff if she could come in to work as a transcranial magnetic stimulation treater, but the plaintiff informed the defendant that she did not feel comfortable conducting treatments as she was considered high risk for COVID-19. The plaintiff’s supervisor informed the plaintiff that she was fired for “not being a team player.” The plaintiff claimed that any reason given for the plaintiff’s termination was “a pretext for unlawful discrimination, based on [the plaintiff’s] disability, and retaliation for [the plaintiff] engaging in protected activity.”

July 10, 2020
Blonski v. Gateway Care Center, LLC, et al. (Monmouth County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff was an employee at a long-term care facility. She alleges that she suffers from lupus, and that during the COVID-19 pandemic, her doctor advised her to take a leave of absence from work because she is at high-risk for COVID-19 complications. Further, the plaintiff alleges that she is the primary caretaker for her four minor children, whose schools and child care centers closed due to the pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that in late March 2020, she contacted the defendant’s human resources director to ask how they were supporting employees who had children at home due to COVID-19-related school closures. She claims that the human resources director responded that she could continue working, stop working temporarily, or use her paid time off. The plaintiff claims that she made a written request to take a leave of absence due to her medical condition and to care for her children. She claims that the human resources director told her that it was fine for her to take time off and to advise the company when she was ready to return. The plaintiff alleges that she was not paid during her leave, as is required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). She also claims that approximately one month later, she received a letter from the defendant stating that she was removed from the work schedule due to excessive absences. She alleges that she tried to contact the defendant’s administrator and the defendant’s human resources director, but that her calls were not returned and her employment was thereby terminated. She alleges that her leave of absence was a determinative or motivating factor in her termination, and brings causes of action for violation of the FFCRA and retaliation. 

Castillo v. The Bengal Shaw Agency Limited Liability Company, et al. (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff was an operations manager for an insurance company. She alleges that she tested positive for COVID-19 and informed her supervisor that she would need to quarantine for at least 14 days. The plaintiff claims that her supervisor responded with text messages stating that she was required to work from home unless she was hospitalized, and that if she could not work, she would be placed on unpaid leave. The plaintiff alleges that she informed her supervisor that she could not work remotely due to her symptoms, and requested that she be placed on paid sick leave pursuant to the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The plaintiff alleges that the following day, she was terminated due to purported performance deficiencies. She claims that her alleged performance deficiencies were a pretext for her termination, and that she was actually terminated for requesting paid leave. She brings claims for violation of the FFCRA and violation of a clear mandate of public policy.

July 9, 2020
Circo v. Thomas E. Moore, D.D.S., P.C. (Jackson County, Missouri)
The plaintiff was an orthopedic assistant for a dentist. She claims that on March 25, 2020, the defendant held a meeting with staff in which the staff were told that if they felt unsafe and did not want to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, they would be granted leave to stay home and that their jobs would not be in jeopardy. The plaintiff claims that she informed the defendant that she planned to remain at home for the duration of the state’s stay-at-home order, because her husband has an auto-immune disease and kidney disease, and because she resides with her minor children. The plaintiff claims that the defendant assured her that her job was secure. She alleges that two days later, she applied for unemployment benefits and was approved. The plaintiff alleges that several weeks later, she received a paycheck from the defendant representing her accrued vacation pay. The plaintiff claims that she then called the defendant, who informed her that her employment had been terminated because they interpreted her application for unemployment as a voluntary resignation. The plaintiff alleges that her choice to stay home while the statewide stay-at-home order was in effect was the reason for her termination, and that the termination was therefore in violation of public policy. 

Fitzgerald v. The We Company d/b/a WeWork (Southern District of New York)
The plaintiff sued her employer for retaliation and discrimination in terminating her employment, and alleges that the defendant used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext. Beginning in spring 2019, the plaintiff made complaints to human resources against a supervisor for sexual harassment, and had complained about another supervisor for requiring her to work on the same team as the alleged harasser after she had complained of harassment. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant took no action against the alleged harassers. Moreover, the plaintiff informed the defendant in late 2019 and early 2020 that she was experiencing anxiety and depression, due in part to the alleged harassment she was suffering at work. The plaintiff applied for and was approved for intermittent FMLA leave for appointments to treat her anxiety and depression. According to the plaintiff, the defendant exhibited indifference to her alleged disability. In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged New York City, where the plaintiff was employed. The defendant informed the plaintiff that she was being terminated due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government shutdown orders on the defendant. The plaintiff brought suit alleging that the defendant used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for disability discrimination and retaliation for her complaints of harassment. The plaintiff also alleges the defendant failed to take adequate remedial measures against her supervisors’ harassment. Finally, the plaintiff alleges FMLA interference and retaliation.

July 8, 2020
Daniel v. ABS Seafood, Inc. (San Francisco County, California)
The plaintiff, a white male employed as a driver, alleges he was discriminated against and retaliated against based on his race in violation of California law. He claims that other employees used derogatory language in reference to him, such as “white boy,” and would say to him “f*** you, Donald Trump’s nephew.” The plaintiff also alleges that when other employees did not want to perform certain jobs, such as driving to specific companies to pick up specialty items or shoveling snow, the employees deferred the work to the plaintiff and said, "make the white boy do it.'' The plaintiff claims that he reported the behavior to human resources every month for over two years, “but little to nothing was done to remedy the situation as the harassment continued.” The plaintiff alleges that he was “laid off” on March 19, 2020 “under the pretext of COVID-19,” but that the real reason he was laid off was his race, because he was the only white driver employed, and no other drivers were laid off at that time.

Dr. Katherine Grundmann Grundy v. University of Maryland School of Medicine, et al. (District of Maryland)
The plaintiff, an attending emergency medicine physician, claims discrimination and failure-to-accommodate under the ADA. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the university issued a statement related to telework. The statement indicated that all staff members at higher risk of COVID-19 complications would not be required to be physically present on campus, and could arrange telework, use accrued sick or other leave, or receive an excused absence. The plaintiff alleges that because she suffers from asthma and eczema, she is at higher risk for severe illness should she contract COVID-19. The plaintiff provided a physician’s statement to the university, which included a recommendation that she not have direct patient care during the outbreak, and requested permission to telework. During the plaintiff’s discussions with the university regarding her requested accommodation, the plaintiff had a breakdown and explained that she was struggling with severe anxiety over contracting COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that less than an hour after this call, the university advised her, without explanation, that it would not renew her contract for another term despite the fact that her appointment had been consistently reviewed each year during her twenty-one year career. The plaintiff claims that any reasons proffered by the university for the non-renewal of her contract are a pretext for its discriminatory and retaliatory actions against her.

Hofmayer v. Jewish Senior Living Group, et al. (San Francisco County Superior Court, California)
The plaintiff, a 72-year-old “Supportive Counselor,” filed claims against his former employer, a senior living facility, alleging various theories of discrimination and retaliation based upon his age and disabilities. The plaintiff alleges that in mid-March 2020, as a result of San Francisco’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, the defendant agreed that the plaintiff should perform his counseling duties from home. However, according to the plaintiff, in early April the defendant demanded that the plaintiff return to work in person. The plaintiff alleges that he requested to continue to working remotely, due to the recommendation by his physician given his “advanced age,” but that the defendant rejected this request. The plaintiff further alleges that he attempted to engage in an interactive process in order to find a reasonable accommodation, but claims that the defendant did not meaningfully participate. Thereafter, the plaintiff was placed on “Indefinite Unpaid Personal Leave of Absence,” which the plaintiff alleges amounts to a constructive termination. The plaintiff asserts claims under California state law for age discrimination, disability discrimination, failure to provide a reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to prevent discrimination, retaliation, and constructive discharge. Notably, the plaintiff also asserts violations of the California Labor Code for the defendant’s alleged nonpayment of wages, and for waiting time penalties.

Vorkoper v. Tech M3, Inc. (San Diego County, California)
The plaintiff, an executive administrator, alleges among other things that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and wrongfully terminated in violation of California public policy. The plaintiff claims that on or about Feb. 20, 2020, she became ill with a non-contagious sinus infection and requested two days of sick leave to recover. She claims that when she returned to work, she provided her supervisors with medical documentation reflecting her diagnosis, but her supervisors “proceeded to harass and discriminate [the plaintiff] by falsely accusing her of carrying COVID-19.” For example, the plaintiff alleges that “every time [the plaintiff] sneezed or coughed in the office, [her supervisors] loudly heckled [the plaintiff] in front of coworkers stating, ‘Stay away from me!’ and ‘You have the corona!’” The plaintiff claims that on one occasion, her supervisor loudly yelled in front of coworkers, “This whole outbreak started with [the plaintiff’s] cough!” The plaintiff alleges that when she arrived to the office on or about March 17, a coworker expressed her sympathy stating, “I am so sorry you were fired.” The plaintiff walked into her supervisor’s office to ask about her employment status, and was informed that her supervisor intended to fire her that day but had forgotten to tell her, and that her “termination was necessary to ‘protect the workplace’ from her illness.” The plaintiff claims that her supervisors’ conduct of falsely accusing her of carrying COVID-19, coupled with the false accusation that the plaintiff started the COVID-19 pandemic, constitutes “discriminatory, retaliatory, and harassing” conduct. She alleges that the real reasons she was terminated were because of her requests to use accrued sick leave, her reporting of workplace complaints, and to avoid having to pay her with stock options that would be due to her in the near future.

July 5, 2020
Peralta v. Eton Street Restaurant, Inc. d/b/a Big Rock Chop House (Eastern District of Michigan)
The plaintiff worked as a manager at a high-end steak house. In mid-March, Michigan’s governor issued an order requiring all restaurants to close, save for takeout orders, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the plaintiff, her general manager told employees they should file for unemployment but kept them working nonetheless. Most employees accepted this arrangement, whereby they worked for free while collecting unemployment, but the plaintiff refused. On March 19, the plaintiff began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and told the general manager that she felt she should stay home. The general manager purportedly told the plaintiff to come in anyway. The next day, the plaintiff was still experiencing symptoms, and the general manager told her not to come in “until [the general manager] had some plan from the owners.” A week later, the plaintiff informed the general manager she was feeling better and inquired about a return to work. Three days later, the general manager told the plaintiff to “hang tight.” The plaintiff heard nothing from the defendant until the general manager called her on May 26 and informed her she was being terminated. The ownership had allegedly told the general manager she had to make cuts and that she “had to take care of the people that had been there over the last three months with her.” The plaintiff sued the defendant under the FLSA and Michigan state law, alleging she was retaliated against for her refusal to perform unpaid work. She also sued the defendant for violations of the FFCRA, alleging she was not given paid leave when she was experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, was not reinstated to her former position when she recovered, and was retaliated against. Finally, the plaintiff alleges the defendant violated public policy when it terminated her for her refusal to work without pay while collecting unemployment.

July 2, 2020
Jones v. Kentuckiana Curb Company, Inc. (Jefferson County, Kentucky)
The plaintiff, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, alleges that the defendant violated the Kentucky disability discrimination statute when it failed to accommodate him and terminated his employment because of his disability or his perceived disability. The plaintiff also alleges that he is entitled to relief because he relied to his detriment on the defendant’s promise to return him to work after he took leave during the COVID-19 pandemic. In early April 2020, the defendant began to offer employees leave under its coronavirus time-off policy. Due to his immune-compromised health conditions, the plaintiff believed taking leave might be the safest option for him, but wanted to ensure that his job would be available upon his return to work. According to the plaintiff, after three management officials assured him that his position would be available to him upon his return from leave, on April 6 he applied for and subsequently took leave under the coronavirus time-off policy. On May 1, the plaintiff received a phone call telling him that his position was no longer available and that he was terminated. According to the plaintiff, other employees who were not disabled or perceived as disabled took coronavirus leave and were returned to work. 

Whitney Stevens and Regina Stewart v. Ubiqus Reporting Inc., et al. (Southern District of New York)
The plaintiffs, a government contract account manager and an administrative assistant, claim they were terminated as a result of their race in violation of Section 1981 and New York State Human Rights Law. The employer’s stated reason for downsizing was slow business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the plaintiffs allege that their terminations were actually due to their race, because the employer later hired back all non-minority employees who had been terminated, but did not hire back three of the company's five minority employees, including the plaintiffs.

July 1, 2020
Cox v. Dotson DDS (Hillsborough County, Florida)
The plaintiff, the defendant’s office manager, alleges she was terminated in violation of the Florida Private Whistleblower’s Act. She alleges that from March 17 through April 30, the plaintiff and other employees were furloughed by her employer. The plaintiff claims that she filed for unemployment benefits with a retroactive date of March 17. On or about April 26, the plaintiff received a group text message from her supervisor informing the team of a staff meeting on May 1, to address a return to work and the changes due to COVID-19. The plaintiff attended the staff meeting and returned to full-time employment on May 4. The next day, the defendant presented the plaintiff with a check stating it was a bonus check for coming back to work. However, the pay stub for the paycheck stated it was for 40 hours worked in the period of April 17 through 30; the dates the plaintiff was furloughed and receiving unemployment benefits. As the office manager, the plaintiff alleges that she received complaints from other staff members about how the “bonus checks” would affect their unemployment claims. The plaintiff requested that her supervisor correct the payroll records and issue a new check for all employees. The plaintiff made this request so that she could accurately report her time and wages for unemployment benefits. In response, the owner of the company stated that "the paycheck is actually part of the Paycheck Protection Program, and not a bonus. If you don't want the check provided, then give it back to me and I will pay you for the (2) hour staff meeting you attended on May 1, 2020." Later that day, the plaintiff alleges, the owner called and terminated her employment, purportedly for opposing and refusing to falsify her time records. 

Constance v. Hollybrook Golf and Tennis Club Condominium, Inc. (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff, an employee at a “55 and older” residential community, sued his employer for retaliation under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA, part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act). The plaintiff alleges that he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and advised the defendant that the other employees should know. Shortly after, the plaintiff received a positive COVID-19 test result, and was given isolation orders by his doctor. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant instructed the plaintiff not to tell the employees or residents of the positive COVID-19 test result. The plaintiff alleges that his supervisor texted him, instructing him not to discuss his medical situation with any residents because it was not appropriate, and that the defendant was “seeing more and more residents thinking they can ask inappropriate questions about employee health specifics.” Upon the plaintiff’s return from leave, he was terminated. The plaintiff alleges that his termination was in retaliation for taking sick leave. 

June 30, 2020
Adler v. Starboard Group Management, Co. Inc., et al. (Broward County, Florida)
The plaintiff was the defendant’s vice president of legal affairs and human resources, until she was terminated on June 1, 2020. The plaintiff asserts that her supervisor sexually harassed her and she complained to the CEO, who responded by “ratifying” the harassment. The plaintiff also alleges that the CEO ordered her to contact the employer’s “creditors, landlords, vendors, and suppliers and claim that the company could not meet its financial obligations because it had not received [Paycheck Protection Program] funding.” The plaintiff asserts that the statements were false, because the company received almost $9 million in PPP benefits. According to the plaintiff, the CEO diverted roughly $1 milion of PPP funds to finance his new home in Montana, and directed the plaintiff to characterize certain personal employees in Montana as corporate employees. The plaintiff contends that she complained to her supervisor about these actions because she understood them to amount to fraud against the SBA and U.S. government. Among other causes of action, she asserts that the defendants violated Florida's Private Whistle Blowers Statute by firing her for, among other things, engaging in protected conduct by objecting to “delivering fraudulent claims to creditors.” 

June 29, 2020
Queponds v. Ordway Corporation (Orange County, California)
The plaintiff, a 60-year old male whose “national origin/race is Hispanic,” brings a six-count complaint for violations of California law after exhausting his administrative remedies.  The plaintiff alleges that in 2016, he began experiencing discrimination by supervisory and managerial employees “on the basis of his national origin/race and age” in a variety of ways, including: insulting the plaintiff in front of customers, “falsely criticizing [the plaintiff’s] performance,” providing the plaintiff “with old equipment,” not providing the plaintiff with “necessary training updates” or “new assignments,” and not inviting the plaintiff to “necessary conferences” or “out-of-state repairs.”  The plaintiff claims that he made complaints, but that nothing was done to address the purported discrimination, that the discrimination continued, and that he was terminated in retaliation.  The plaintiff alleges that he was told that “he and three other employees were terminated due to COVID-19.”  However, the plaintiff alleges that the reason provided was a pretext for discrimination and retaliation, because the other employees “were returned to work and plaintiff was replaced by a non-Hispanic individual under the age of 40.”  The plaintiff claims wrongful termination in violation of public policy, race and national origin discrimination and retaliation, age discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  

Escobar v. City of California City, et al. (Kern County, California)
The plaintiff was a general services worker for California City’s department of public works. He alleges that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city required him to attend a meeting of approximately 20 employees, in violation of the county’s public health order. He claims that at the meeting, he complained about unsafe working conditions and health and safety violations by the city. The plaintiff alleges that his complaints included that the city failed to properly sanitize equipment and vehicles, failed to provide employees with proper safety equipment, and failed to implement social distancing requirements. He also alleges that he complained that the city was failing to protect the health of its essential employees because the city was not limiting work calls to actual emergencies. He further alleges that he complained that the city made it impossible to follow social distancing guidelines (because it required employees to ride together in the same vehicles), and that the city was violating California OSHA regulations. The plaintiff alleges that after making these complaints, he was sent home. He claims that later the same day, he was told to report to human resources, where he was terminated. According to the plaintiff, the city claimed that he was being terminated because he failed to pass his probationary period. The plaintiff alleges that this supposed reason was a pretext for his termination, and that he was actually terminated as a result of his complaints. He brings causes of action for discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. 

Handel-Orefice v. New York Presbyterian Hosp. et al. (New York County, New York)
The plaintiff, a physician who was in the last few months of a maternal fetal medicine fellowship program, filed a complaint against the defendants seeking an order requiring the defendants to provide an expedited review of the decision to terminate her hospital privileges and her enrollment in the fellowship program. In addition, the plaintiff seeks at least $15,000,000 in damages due to her termination. The plaintiff alleges that she was singled out and placed on an intensive corrective action plan due to her race and national origin following a patient care incident. On March 13, 2020, when the defendants began to require the plaintiff to administer COVID-19 swab tests to patients arriving for care, the plaintiff requested an N95 respirator because she was concerned for her safety and the safety of her patients. After the hospital denied her request for an N95 respirator, the plaintiff contacted the associate director of the fellowship program (on March 15) as well as other hospital administrators (on March 16 and 17) to express her concern for the safety of the patients and her own safety. On March 18, 2020, the plaintiff was designated as the COVID tester on the labor and delivery floor. The plaintiff performed the COVID-19 tests as required, without an N95 respirator, and three patients tested positive. On March 19, several other fellows expressed concern about the increased risk of exposure for the plaintiff and the patients due to the requirement that plaintiff conduct all the tests on the labor and delivery floor during her shift without an N95 respirator. On March 20, the defendants terminated the plaintiff’s hospital privileges, as well as her employment and her participation in the fellowship program.

Hoffman v. Providence Health & Services Washington (Spokane County, Washington)
The plaintiff, a doctor, sued his employer for disability discrimination and wrongful termination in violation of Washington law. The plaintiff alleges that he had been granted an accommodation to use alternative masks prior to COVID-19, because the defendant’s supplied masks caused him to have oral and throat irritation and swelling. The plaintiff alleges that because he was required to work at other locations for the defendant, he kept a supply of masks in his car. The plaintiff alleges that shortly after he complained to the defendant’s administration about the COVID-19 preparedness and areas for improvement, his supervisor berated him. The plaintiff alleges that other staff were using his masks, and as a result, he had to replenish the masks he stored in his car. The plaintiff claims that, “[w]hen it became convenient to dismiss [plaintiff], [the defendant] revoked the accommodation and claimed [plaintiff] had been stealing the masks.” The plaintiff claims that he was wrongfully terminated for bringing COVID-19 concerns to the defendant’s attention, and due to his need for an accommodation. 

Ware v. Dismas Plasma, Inc. (Jefferson County, Kentucky)
The plaintiff was discharged after complying with his doctor’s order to self-quarantine for 14 days for suspected COVID-19 exposure. The plaintiff sued his former employer, a charitable organization, under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate a disability, and retaliation. The plaintiff learned that a person with whom he interacted regularly at work was self-quarantining for two weeks because his doctor suspected he had COVID-19. The next day, the plaintiff’s physician ordered the plaintiff to self-quarantine for 14 days. The plaintiff went to his workplace and gave one of the defendant’s executive employees his doctor’s note. She allegedly responded, “Why should I give you sick time if you aren’t sick?” The plaintiff claims he told her the quarantine order was based on the plaintiff’s interactions with someone suspected of having COVID-19, and the plaintiff’s weakened immune system. After quarantining for 14 days, the plaintiff returned to work and presented his medical clearance. The same executive allegedly told him not to return to work until she contacted him. Later that day, the plaintiff wrote to his employer’s human resources department and complained that he felt discriminated against based on the quarantine order, his high risk of contracting COVID-19, and his underlying health conditions. The next day, the plaintiff faxed a second letter, reiterating the same discrimination complaints. The plaintiff contends that within the hour, the defendant terminated plaintiff due to “lack of performance.” 

June 26, 2020
Ruth Sanchez v. 5 Star Building Services LLC (Broward County, Florida)
The plaintiff, a cleaner, claims violations under Florida’s Whistleblower Protection Act and Safety and Health Act and under OSHA, related to her employer’s refusal to provide protective gear to reduce her exposure to COVID-19. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that she requested face masks and gloves to use in the course of her job cleaning local condominiums. After her employer refused her request, the plaintiff requested two weeks off work. In response to her request for time off work, the plaintiff claims that her employer construed her request as a resignation and notified her that her position would be filled on the basis that the employer was an “essential business allowed to operate despite government shutdown orders.”

June 25, 2020
Kopesky v. Surface Technologies Corporation, et al. (Southern District of California) 
The plaintiff, a heavy machine mechanic, alleges that in violation of California law, he was discriminated against because of his disabilities, and that the defendants failed to engage in the interactive process with him regarding his requested medical leave. The plaintiff alleges that he informed his manager that “he would be taking a medical leave of absence because he feared his comorbidities placed his life at risk . . .” due to the defendants’ lack of safety protections regarding PPE and lack of social distancing measures in response to COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that while he was taking time off to see his doctor, the defendants wrongfully terminated him for job abandonment in violation of California law. 

Lopez v. Progressive Business Corp. (Los Angeles Superior Court, California)
The plaintiff filed a wrongful termination case alleging that she was terminated in violation of public policy following her pregnancy. The plaintiff gave birth in the summer of 2019, and upon her return, she alleges that she was subjected to harassing comments, a reduction in her duties, and harassing surveillance. In March 2020, she alleges that she complained about the defendant employer’s handling of COVID-19-related health and safety issues in the workplace and was terminated a few days later. The plaintiff alleges four causes of action: wrongful termination in violation of public policy (including retaliation for her COVID-19 health and safety complaints), gender discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and retaliation. 

Marc Rotenberg v. Electronic Privacy Information Center (Superior Court for the District of Columbia)
The plaintiff, founder of defendant Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), dedicates a significant portion of his 40-page complaint outlining his profile, reputation, performance, and success as the defendant’s president and executive director. The plaintiff claims that “EPIC's problems began when Mary Stone Ross, a former CIA agent, started working at EPIC. Per the plaintiff, Ross bred division among the EPIC staff, raised concerns about [the plaintiff’s] management abilities, and questioned [the plaintiff’s] role as Executive Director” and “derailed” EPIC’s efforts to meet key organizational goals. On March 5, after returning from international travel, the plaintiff consulted with his doctor about potential COVID-19 testing and was advised that a test was not necessary. The plaintiff claims that Ross maliciously raised concerns about the plaintiff with EPIC staff and board members, suggesting that the plaintiff (who was asymptomatic) was required to self-quarantine. The next day, the plaintiff’s doctor reportedly indicated that the plaintiff could take the test and, without urgency, it was scheduled for March 9. The plaintiff tested positive for the virus and promptly left the office. The plaintiff worked remotely until March 19, “when he was notified by the D.C. agency that he was classified as ’recovered,’ a determination that follows two negative tests 24 hours apart.” The plaintiff claims that during this period, Ross created more controversy and made false accusations about him, and alleged that the plaintiff had left his home during the self-quarantine period, which the plaintiff denies. The plaintiff claims that Ross was dismissed from EPIC in late April 2020 due to poor performance, and then allegedly caused a false article to be published about the plaintiff. Not long thereafter, the plaintiff was told that he needed to resign or he would be dismissed. The plaintiff claims that the defendants’ leaders published the false, malicious and defamatory statement that the plaintiff knowingly placed the health and safety of the EPIC staff and others at risk. The plaintiff claims discrimination in violation of the District of Columbia Human Rights Act, D.C. Code § 2-1401.01, et seq.; breach of contract; defamation; invasion of privacy; breach of confidential relationship; and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The plaintiff demands compensatory and punitive damages, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, and injunctive and other relief. 

June 24, 2020
Di Nola v. Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership (District of New Hampshire)
The plaintiff, a human resources manager, alleges wrongful termination in violation of New Hampshire public policy. The plaintiff was advised that two employees were returning from Malaysia and China amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on CDC guidance, the plaintiff decided to require the two employees to stay at home for one week to avoid these two employees potentially infecting other employees with COVID-19. A few days later, the plaintiff alleges that she “was summoned to a meeting with” two vice presidents. One vice president advised the plaintiff “that he could not work with her and did not trust her.” The other vice president “accused [the plaintiff] of exaggerating ‘the China virus,’” and directed the plaintiff “to go home.” Approximately one week later, the plaintiff was terminated when one of the vice presidents “walked [the plaintiff] out the main entrance of the defendant’s offices in the 8:00 a.m. hour as employees arrived for work, with boxes of her personal belongings in tow.” The plaintiff alleges that she was fired “for communicating to employees information obtained from [the CDC] regarding COVID-19, for advocating adherence to [CDC] recommendations, and for directing employees returning from China and Malaysia to stay home.”

June 23, 2020
Fawaz Kazi v. The Fullman Firm (Orange County, California)
The plaintiff, an intake specialist, claims religious discrimination and wrongful termination under California law.  The plaintiff, a practicing Muslim, stated that he regularly attended communal prayers on Fridays during his lunch break.  When the COVID-19 pandemic caused communal prayers to be temporarily cancelled, the plaintiff contended that he prayed in his office at work during lunch time.  He alleges that the firm’s owner observed him praying in his office and terminated him the same day.   The plaintiff claims the reasons the employer provided for the termination (which are not alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint) were pretextual.  

O’Bryan v. Joe Taylor Restoration (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff sued his employer for denial of benefits and for retaliation under the FFCRA. In late March, the plaintiff began coughing, and he immediately reported this potential COVID-19 symptom to his supervisor, who sent him home. The plaintiff was told by the defendant to complete forms for sick leave, which he returned promptly. The plaintiff then quarantined for 14 days, but claims he did not receive any pay as he was owed under the FFCRA. After 14 days, the plaintiff inquired whether he could return to work, as he needed income, and the defendant told him to get a doctor’s note clearing him to return. The plaintiff obtained a doctor’s note confirming he had self-quarantined for 14 days due to COVID-19 symptoms and could return to work. The defendant would not accept this note and allegedly told the plaintiff he needed a note specifically saying he was not contagious. The next day, the plaintiff informed the defendant he was being tested for COVID-19. The following business day, while his test results were pending, the defendant terminated the plaintiff’s employment. The plaintiff seeks recovery of the benefits he was allegedly due for paid leave under the FFCRA, as well as damages for alleged retaliatory termination.

Aaron Lathrum v. Smokers Outlet Management, Inc. (Oakland County, Michigan)
The plaintiff sued his employer under the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act for allegedly terminating him in retaliation for his report to the Michigan attorney general about what he believed to be the defendant’s violation of the governor’s shutdown order issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff worked in IT for the defendant, a chain of retail stores selling cigarettes and related tobacco products. According to the plaintiff, the defendant informed its employees that it was an “essential business” under the COVID-19 shutdown order, and was therefore allowed to stay open. The plaintiff complained that he did not think the defendant was such an essential business, but the defendant continued with its plans to continue operating. The plaintiff then sent a message to the Michigan attorney general and the local police department informing them of the defendant’s alleged violation of the governor’s order. The plaintiff forwarded his message to the defendant as well. The next day, the plaintiff’s supervisor locked him out of his company email account, and told him to turn in his company-issued equipment. When he inquired about returning to work after the governor’s COVID-19 order permitted retail outlets to re-open, the plaintiff was allegedly informed he had been terminated.

Preston v. Evergreen Underground Sprinkling Company (Kent County, Michigan)
The plaintiff, a seasonal service technician and salesperson for an irrigations systems company, alleges race discrimination and wrongful termination in violation of Michigan public policy. On March 23, the Michigan governor issued a shelter in place order to limit and prevent the spread of COVID-19. On April 24, the governor issued a continuation of the order, but provided narrow exceptions for business performing outdoor activities to resume business operations with certain safety precautions. The plaintiff alleges that his employer notified him that workers needed to report to work on April 29 for a meeting, and that field work would continue on April 30. The plaintiff alleges that he challenged his employer’s decision that its business fell within the exceptions in the executive order, and expressed concern that work could not be resumed safely. Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that he advised his employer: (1) that his work required him to go into people’s homes, an activity that remained prohibited under the order; and (2) that he could not perform his duties while maintaining the order’s social distancing requirements. In response, the employer’s principals “expressed opinions that the COVID-19 pandemic had been ‘overblown’” and that the COVID-19 pandemic “is a ‘black problem’ and not an issue for Caucasian people, like [the plaintiff].” The plaintiff alleges that he refused to violate the governor’s order by returning to work, and that his employer terminated him for “refusing to return to work when required.”

Reiter v. Dejean and Kuglen Eye Associates, LLP (Montgomery County, Texas)
The plaintiff, a pregnant employee in the employer’s insurance verification department, alleges disability and sex discrimination in violation of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. The plaintiff alleges that in January 2020, she informed her supervisors and coworkers that she was pregnant, and would be having a baby in August. At the end of March, the plaintiff alleges that she received a text “stating she was being furloughed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency” but “would be brought back to work once the situation improved.” The plaintiff alleges that in May “almost all other employees were returned to their positions,” but the plaintiff “received a termination letter stating she was being permanently laid off due to COVID-19.” The plaintiff alleges that her former employer tried to replace “her by hiring someone who was not pregnant.” 

June 22, 2020
Angela Miarer v. Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio, Inc. (Hancock County, Ohio)
The plaintiff, a receptionist, claims disability discrimination under Ohio law for her termination related to COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that in March 2020, when the pandemic developed, she notified her employer that she suffered from multiple sclerosis. She claims that after declining her employer’s request to take a temporary layoff, she was terminated over the phone. The plaintiff alleges that the employer’s purported basis for her termination – that she was supposedly creating a toxic work environment based on her interactions with a co-worker – is false, and a pretext for her termination, which she claims was actually due to her disability.

June 18, 2020
Gallagher & Gallagher v. Boesch & Fieldworks, LLC (Flathead County, Montana)
The plaintiffs were employed for approximately two weeks in May 2020 as canvassers on two ballot initiative signature drives. Following their discharge, the plaintiffs sued their former employer for wrongful termination. Among other causes of action, the plaintiffs contend that they were terminated due to their refusal to violate state and local social distancing guidance, and their complaints to the defendant that inadequate training and ill-fitting personal protective equipment were increasing the risk to workers and the public of contracting and spreading COVID-19. 

Volpe v. Ottinger Golf, LLC (Gloucester County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, the head chef at a golf club, alleges that he was not permitted to use his earned paid sick time in violation of the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Act, and that he was unlawfully terminated in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the New Jersey governor’s stay-at-home order, the golf club closed its facilities to the public and furloughed the majority of its employees, including the plaintiff, with the expectation that such employees would be recalled to work after the order was lifted. The plaintiff alleges that he emailed human resources requesting to utilize his earned sick time during the time he was furloughed, but did not receive a response. After three to four weeks, the plaintiff expressed his concern about using his sick time to the executive chef, who told the plaintiff “to stop asking about his sick time because [his employer] was not going to pay him for any sick time.” The plaintiff alleges that he then inquired with the general manager about using sick time, and was told “if we tried to pay out everybody’s sick time, or tried to continue paying people throughout the pandemic, chances are we would not have enough money to reopen.” The plaintiff alleges that the next day, he was terminated “in retaliation for expressing concerns to [his employer] about [its] illegal practices.”

June 17, 2020
Jackson, III v. RX Staffing and Home Care, Inc. (Sacramento County, California)
The plaintiff was a social worker for a home health care company. He alleges that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company suspended in-person contact with clients, and his job duties therefore consisted solely of administrative work which could be performed from home. He claims that he has HIV, and he requested to work from home because he has a weakened immune system, but was told that he needed to report to the office. The plaintiff further alleges that he was hospitalized for a medical procedure in April 2020 and then returned to work nine days later. He claims that eleven days after he returned, the company informed him that he was being terminated because he had not been completing charts for his patients quickly enough. The plaintiff alleges that he had been catching up on completing the charts as a result of his illness and time off. He claims that the company used his delay in completing the charts as a pretext to terminate his employment. He brings claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, violation of the California Family Rights Act, and retaliation. 

June 15, 2020
Worthy v. Wellington Estates LLC (Ocean County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff was discharged while on a medical leave of absence to recover from COVID-19. The plaintiff, a medical assistant, sued her employer, the owner and operator of a senior and assisted living community, for disability discrimination, perceived disability discrimination, and wrongful termination in violation the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The plaintiff also asserted that her termination violated public policy, as reflected in New Jersey Assembly Bill A3848. The bill, which became effective in March 2020, prohibits an employer from terminating, otherwise penalizing, or refusing to reinstate an employee who takes time off from work because the employee “has, or is likely to have, an infectious disease … [that] may infect others at the employee’s workplace.” The plaintiff alleges that she tested positive for COVID-19 on April 19, 2020, informed her employer immediately, and commenced a medical leave of absence. The plaintiff was released to return to work on May 16, 2020. Before her scheduled return date, the plaintiff asserts that her employer’s representative telephoned her, said the plaintiff was not “welcome back to work” because she contracted COVID-19, and “could have gotten everyone sick.” The plaintiff alleges that the employer’s termination decision was improperly motivated by her contracting COVID-19 and her resulting need for a medical leave. 

June 12, 2020
Michael Flinspach v. Indiana Quarries and Carvers LLC (Southern District of Indiana)
The plaintiff, a quarry extraction worker, claims that in response to his request for FMLA paperwork to stay home and care for his children due to the closures of their schools, his employer retaliated against him by firing him. The plaintiff alleges that he contacted his employer and requested FMLA paperwork for a COVID-19 related reason, and in response to his request, his employer responded that he “was not going to permit [the plaintiff] to stay home and get paid,” and was firing him. He brings claims under the FMLA, the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA), the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
 
Roman v. Jewish Home Assisted Living, Inc., et al. (Bergen County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff sued her employer, claiming disparate treatment and discrimination based on her pregnancy in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. The plaintiff was a physical therapy assistant at an assisted living facility. She was informed by her doctor that she was pregnant, and that her pregnancy was high-risk. When the plaintiff found out a co-worker had tested positive for COVID-19, the plaintiff became concerned given her high-risk pregnancy and asked the defendant if she could be furloughed. The defendant’s management allegedly declined her request, and instead suggested the plaintiff work in the facility’s kitchen area, which was supposedly a lower-risk area. The plaintiff reluctantly agreed. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff had her performance review with the defendant, after which she was terminated, allegedly based on reports of her “negative attitude,” although her job performance was good. The plaintiff alleges this reason given by the defendant for her termination is pretextual, and that the real reason was that she requested an accommodation for her high-risk pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 11, 2020
Derek Henson and Michael Martin v. Total Air Care, Inc. (Madison County, Florida)
The plaintiffs, both sales technicians, claim retaliation under Florida’s Whistleblower Act for their terminations, which they claim were related to COVID-19. Specifically, Plaintiff Henson alleges that in early April, his employer directed him to travel across state lines for work despite the state-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Henson refused his employer’s directive due to his concern that his travel may expose his high-risk wife (diagnosed with emphysema and COPD) to the virus, and he was terminated. Thereafter, Plaintiff Martin, Henson’s brother-in-law, was placed on three consecutive administrative leaves, without reason, and then fired. 

Miller v. Arthritis & Osteoporosis Center, Inc. (Berks County, Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, a registered nurse, alleges she was terminated in violation of Pennsylvania public policy. The plaintiff alleges that she informed her employer that she would not be reporting to work because she was suffering from a fever, sore throat, and congestion. The plaintiff consulted with her primary care doctor who recommended that the plaintiff not report to work for one week and get tested for COVID-19. The plaintiff informed her employer she was getting tested for COVID-19 and, two days later, received a phone call from human resources informing the plaintiff that she was being laid off because her employer “was cutting staff because of reduced business during [the] COVID-19 pandemic and the Pennsylvania governor’s closure of businesses.”  

Faraji v. Coastal Pain & Spinal Diagnostics Medical Group, Inc., et al. (San Diego County, California)
The plaintiff, a marketing coordinator, claims her employment was wrongfully terminated in violation of California law. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant insisted she continue making in-person marketing visits to attorneys’ and doctors’ offices, despite the governor’s stay-at-home order. The plaintiff also expressed her concern to the defendant regarding an unsafe work environment, due to COVID-19. The plaintiff claims she told the defendant that if she was unable to work remotely to care for her school-aged daughter whose school was shut down due to COVID-19, then she would take leave provided by the California Labor Code. The plaintiff claims that she was fired in retaliation for asking to take leave and for expressing safety concerns. 

Welcome v. Huffmaster (Bergen County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a van driver for a company providing strike management and security services, sued his employer for allegedly terminating him for complaining about a co-worker who was exhibiting signs of COVID-19. After he had observed a co-worker, “Steve Last Name Unknown,” constantly coughing and not wearing a mask at work, plaintiff assembled a group of seven or eight employees to discuss Steve LNU’s situation. After this discussion, the plaintiff called his supervisor and informed her of Steve LNU’s apparent symptoms, and requested that the employer have Steve LNU tested for COVID-19. The plaintiff also added that he was concerned not only for this own safety, but also for that of his young asthmatic daughter. According to the plaintiff, his supervisor responded by telling him the company had rules against discussing COVID-19 in groups, and that, as the “ringleader” of the group of employees, he had violated company rules. After her call with the plaintiff, the supervisor allegedly emailed everyone in the group except the plaintiff, told them there had been “misinformation” circulated about Steve LNU, and told the employees not to worry about it. Three days later, the plaintiff was terminated, allegedly for being the “ringleader” of the group of employees who met to discuss Steve LNU’s apparent COVID-19 symptoms, thereby violating the company’s rules against “employees discussing the COVID-19 virus…having non-work-related conversations with each other,” and “hav[ing] large meetings of employees to discuss work issues.”

June 9, 2020
Barbara Lesikar v. Jefferson Place Assisted Living, Inc., et al. (Travis County, Texas)
The plaintiff, a licensed nurse employed at an assisted living facility, claims that she was retaliated against in violation of Texas law after she reported what she believed to be violations related to in-services, fire drills, and COVID-19 safety precautions. The plaintiff alleges that since September 2018, the employer failed to provide nurses with required in-service training; failed to conduct monthly fire drills despite falsely documenting the fire drills were completed; and failed to provide training or information to nurses regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that the day after she called and made the report to the facility’s owner, her supervisor told the plaintiff she was “being terminated because she allegedly had two complaints” about her.

Willmeng v. Allina Health System
(Ramsey County, Minnesota)
The plaintiff, an emergency room nurse, filed a two-count complaint claiming he was terminated in violation of Minnesota’s whistleblower and occupational safety laws for reporting safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges he reported to the defendant that he was concerned that he and other employees could put their families at risk by working in personal scrubs and then wearing them home, and requested that employees be issued surgical scrubs. When the defendant failed to issue the surgical scrubs, the plaintiff and other nurses began wearing the surgical scrubs that were available at the hospital. Thereafter, the plaintiff reported to a number of the defendant’s managerial employees his continued concerns over safety relating to the defendant’s alleged: (1) failure to provide adequate PPE, (2) insistence that employees wear personal scrubs, and (3) failure to provide adequate patient gowns for COVID-19 patients. After the plaintiff filed a complaint with OSHA, and informed the defendant that he had done so, he alleges he was disciplined for wearing hospital-issued scrubs. Subsequently, when multiple nurses were approached by managers during their shifts about wearing hospital-issued scrubs as opposed to their own personal scrubs, the plaintiff complained that the meetings were being conducted without union representation, and informed one of the managers that the complaint he filed with OSHA had been referred to the Minnesota Department of Labor discrimination unit. On May 4, 2020, a number of employees and members of the public protested in front of the hospital, demanding that employees be allowed to wear hospital-issued scrubs and publicizing the alleged retaliation. The plaintiff was terminated on May 8, 2020.

Burgess v. Bret Russell, Inc. (Oakland County, Michigan)
The plaintiff, a property manager for a luxury housing complex, claims that she was wrongfully discharged in violation of Michigan public policy after refusing to show any apartments unless the prospective tenants needed “housing very soon.” The plaintiff alleges that showing the units would have been in contravention of the governor’s COVID-19-related orders. The plaintiff alleges that she sent the defendant’s operations director a lengthy email “explaining that she would not violate the Governor’s Order.” Soon thereafter, the defendant informed the plaintiff she was being discharged, supposedly because the plaintiff “did not respect management.” Separately, the plaintiff was informed by the defendant’s attorney that “among various reasons given,” the plaintiff was “laid off” because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and that other persons from the corporate office were also being laid off.” 

Carney v. H.S.F. Enterprises, Inc., et al. (Camden County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a sales consultant at a luxury car dealership, claims that she was discharged in violation of New Jersey’s whistleblower law. The plaintiff claims that, following the reopening of the car dealership, she repeatedly “blew the whistle to management” regarding the dealership’s noncompliance with New Jersey’s COVID-19-related safety and health requirements. The plaintiff claims, among other things, that she was not provided a physical barrier, that she was “scolded and reprimanded because a customer complained that [the plaintiff] sat the customer six feet away from her,” and that she was reprimanded for taking a photo of a salesperson sitting next to a customer in a small cubicle with the salesperson’s mask off. After complaining to the defendant, the plaintiff’s employment was terminated, and she was told that she had “been nothing but a disruption.”

June 8, 2020
Porti v. PM Pediatrics Management Group, LLC, et al. (Queens County, New York)
The plaintiff, a medical director at a pediatric health clinic, claims that she was discharged in violation of New York Labor Law. The plaintiff alleges she made multiple written complaints to the defendants concerning the defendants’ handling of PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic. This, the plaintiff claims, was a violation of New York Labor Law because defendants “did not equip and operate in a manner to ensure the ‘reasonable and adequate protection to the lives, health and safety of all persons employment [at defendant]...’” Following the plaintiff’s third written complaint to defendants, her employment was terminated. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants told her that her termination was necessary because she seemed “unhappy.” The plaintiff claims that her discharge was in retaliation for her protected complaints. 

June 5, 2020
Morales v. American Health Associates, Inc. (Seminole County, Florida)
The plaintiff was a phlebotomist, and her primary job duty was to draw blood from patients. The plaintiff alleges that she signed a letter that was forwarded to her supervisor, as well as the defendant employer’s vice president and chief executive officer. The plaintiff states that the letter informed the recipients that phlebotomists were being asked to collect COVID-19 specimens, but that the company had not provided them with PPE, in violation of OSHA regulations. The plaintiff also alleges that she sent numerous text messages to her supervisor complaining about the company’ failure to provide the PPE, and demanding that the company do so. The plaintiff alleges that her fears of exposure to the virus were realized when she came into contact with a COVID-19-positive patient while she was without PPE. The plaintiff alleges that after her exposure, her supervisor instructed her to self-quarantine for seventy-two hours. According to the plaintiff, when the seventy-two hours passed, she texted her supervisor about returning to work, and was told that she was terminated for failing to show up to work for three days. The plaintiff brings a claim for whistleblower retaliation in violation of Florida Statutes section 448.102. She also brings claims for wage and hour violations under the Florida Constitution and the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Stivers v. Indiana Limestone Acquisition, LLC (Southern District of Indiana)
The plaintiff worked as a limestone sawyer. He alleges that he told the defendant employer that he would need to take leave to care for his child because his mother, who normally provided childcare, was ordered to quarantine for one month after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Further, the plaintiff alleges that after he informed his employer that his mother was exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, the company required him to self-quarantine for at least fourteen days. The plaintiff alleges that he applied for thirty days of leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and that the company expressly approved the leave and paid him at two-third his regular rate of pay for forty hours per week for the remainder of his employment. However, the plaintiff alleges that he was wrongfully terminated after three weeks of leave. According to the plaintiff, the company maintained that he was losing his position as part of a reduction in force, but the plaintiff alleges that the company’s stated reason for his termination is untrue. The plaintiff claims that the company transferred or rehired an individual from another facility to work in his position, even though the individual was untrained as a limestone sawyer. The plaintiff further alleges that in determining which positions to keep or eliminate, the company focused primarily on employees who were on FMLA/FFCRA leave. The plaintiff brings two causes of action—one for violation of the FMLA and one for violation of the FFCRA. 

Wallace v. Hub International Insurance Services, Inc. (San Diego County, California)
The plaintiff, an account executive, claims, among other things, that in violation of California law, she was harassed, discriminated against, and retaliated against due to her gender. She also alleges she was wrongfully terminated in violation of California public policy. In March 2020, the plaintiff was instructed by her employer to work from home in response to the California governor’s lockdown order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff was unable to secure childcare for her two young children during the lockdown order, and alleges that her supervisor instructed her that “her children are not to be heard during phone calls.” The plaintiff explained that background noise would likely occur while both children are awake in the morning, but that “her youngest napped in the afternoon, so that would be the best time for calls.” Despite this conversation, the plaintiff alleges that her supervisor continued to schedule calls when she was feeding her children or putting them down for a nap, and gave the plaintiff “rush” assignments. The plaintiff objected, and told her supervisor that she felt that his expectations were unrealistic, given her need to care for her children. The plaintiff alleges that her supervisor told her to “take care of her kid situation” and to “figure it out.” The plaintiff subsequently took her concerns that she was being discriminated against as a mother to human resources. After expressing her concerns, the vice president of human resources told the plaintiff that the company “was experiencing a reduced revenue due to COVID-19 and they were laying Plaintiff off as a result of the pandemic.” The plaintiff alleges that the company “was using COVID-19 as a bogus justification to terminate Plaintiff,” and alleges that the company posted an opening for her former position, “effectively disproving that Plaintiff’s job was eliminated for financial reasons.”

Watts v. Microsoft Corp.
(King County Superior Court, State of Washington)
The plaintiff (former “Senior HR Manager for Microsoft Retail Stores”) says that she informed Microsoft on March 4, 2020, that she had a job offer from another employer. Apparently, the offer was a good one, because she wanted to “see what opportunities existed within Microsoft that were commensurate with the [other] offer.” The plaintiff alleges that Microsoft only pointed her to a “position that was less appealing than the one offered by [the other employer].” As a result, the plaintiff says that she accepted the other position on March 11 and so informed her Microsoft manager and asked if she would be immediately released from her Microsoft employment. According to the plaintiff, she was asked (and agreed) to stay with Microsoft during the “transition of all her work duties to other employees.” The plaintiff reports that she continued working for Microsoft without any defined end date and took on additional work due to the impact of COVID-19. However, in mid-March the plaintiff learned about the closure of her child’s school and requested flexibility from her supervisor in light of the school closure and the unavailability of her nanny, in keeping with Microsoft’s internal statements at the time about the need for flexibility with employees facing school closures. The plaintiff claims that she suggested a daily schedule of being online and offline during a day, “using sick time, if necessary, for time away.” The supervisor allegedly did not respond to this email and later that day the plaintiff reportedly asked for sick time to care for her two children. The plaintiff claims that the next day she emailed human resources general email account regarding her “need for flexibility in her schedule to accommodate her child’s school being closed.” The plaintiff claims that her supervisor separately wrote to her that day, informed her of the termination of her employment, and told her that she could “now just go be with [her] kids.” The plaintiff claims that, on the day after her termination, Microsoft opened a position “that was equivalent to the position [she] had accepted with [the other employer].” The plaintiff claims retaliation in violation of the Washington Paid Family Leave Act, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and promissory estoppel. She seeks compensatory damages, lost wages, emotion damages, injunctive relief, and other damages.

June 4, 2020
Ratliff v. Powell County Detention Center, et al. (Powell County, Kentucky)
The plaintiff, a former substance abuse counselor at a Kentucky detention center, alleges that she was wrongfully discharged in violation of the Kentucky Whistleblower Act. The plaintiff alleges that she inquired about COVID-19 mitigation plans, and was informed that the counselors “would have to work normally and if a counselor refused to do so that person would be fired.” Following this meeting, the plaintiff sought unpaid leave, then the defendants discharged the plaintiff. The plaintiff claims that she and others were discharged “after they coordinated in an effort to bring to attention violations of CDC and OSHA recommendations” and the Kentucky governor’s executive orders pertaining to COVID-19.

Mondello v. Kelco Construction, Inc. (Suffolk County, New York)
The plaintiff, a manager of a car restoration and customization garage, claims that his employer discriminated against him based on “his actual and/or perceived disability,” “retaliated against him for engaging in protected activity, and effectively terminated his employment.” The plaintiff alleges he “repeatedly complained about unsanitary and illegal working conditions,” which “was putting everyone’s health at risk during COVID-19.” He claims his supervisors dismissed his concerns, saying “the Company won’t do [expletive] about it” and telling him to “leave it alone.” After the plaintiff learned that three employees contracted COVID-19, he made a request to work remotely, accompanied with a doctor’s note indicating that he is at high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the fact that he is a cancer survivor. The employer denied the plaintiff’s request, sent him home, and “failed to pay him for at least two days for that workweek.” The plaintiff’s supervisors emailed him in April, stating that if “he did not return to work [the following Monday], provide a medical note saying he could work without any restrictions, and sign a waiver of his legal rights, he would be fired.” When the plaintiff did not comply, his remote access was terminated. The plaintiff seeks damages for disability discrimination and retaliation under the New York State Human Rights Law, and unpaid wages and commissions under the New York Labor Law.

James v. Language World Services, Inc., et al. (Sacramento County, California)
The plaintiff, a temp-to-hire medical assistant, brings numerous causes of action against the defendants including disability discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge, and failure to provide rest periods in violation of California law. Among other things, the plaintiff claims that the nurse manager refused to provide the plaintiff with a mask, even though she would come into contact with a patient exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. The nurse manager explained that “a mask would not protect [the plaintiff] from infection.” After experiencing COVID-19 symptoms herself, the plaintiff was put on a one-week medical leave of absence. Upon her return to work, the plaintiff confirmed that she came into contact with a COVID-19-positive patient, and obtained another doctor’s note. The plaintiff alleges that she was then informed that her assignment had been “terminated due to a breach of confidentiality.” The plaintiff alleges the defendants discriminated against her “after perceiving her as being infected with the COVID-19 virus.”

Henslovitz v. Thunderball Marketing Inc., et al. (Essex County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a 70-year old sales person, claims he was discriminated against on the basis of his age and disability, and retaliated against in violation of New Jersey’s whistleblower law. The defendant closed its facilities after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. The plaintiff asked the defendant’s attorney whether the office would be sanitized prior to opening. The defendant employer responded that the defendants would clean the office when they came back to work after Passover. After the defendant reopened its facilities, the plaintiff claims he was the only employee that was not permitted to return to work on the same day as other employees. The plaintiff contacted the defendant’s attorney again, claiming he was “startled that [the defendant] would put other employees in danger without cleaning out the Cragwood Road facility...” The next day, the vice president of the defendant company informed customers that the plaintiff was no longer employed by the defendant. The plaintiff claims his employment was terminated in retaliation for complaining of conduct that was incompatible with a clear mandate of public policy, including an executive order issued by the governor. 

June 3, 2020
Reyna v. Cascade Health Services, LLC (Southern District Court of Texas)
The plaintiff, a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home, claims that she was wrongfully terminated and retaliated against in violation of the FFCRA. The plaintiff alleges that “she went home from work feeling horribly sick,” and attempted to schedule a COVID-19 test. The soonest appointment at a testing center was not until the following week, and the local health department informed the plaintiff “to self-quarantine until she received her test results.” The plaintiff then contacted her supervisor and explained she was experiencing COVID-like symptoms and “would self-quarantine until she got her [COVID-19] test results in order to protect the residents.” In response, the plaintiff claims she was informed that she was being fired. Among other things, the plaintiff seeks damages for “past and future wages” and a “mandatory injunction reinstating plaintiff’s employment benefits, retroactive to May 15, 2020.”

Elliott Stein, M.D. v. Hebrew Home for Aged Disabled, et al.
(San Francisco County, California)
The plaintiff, a 72-year-old prominent geriatric psychiatrist, filed a six-count complaint alleging disability discrimination and defamation against the defendants, who operated a large nursing home and a psychiatric hospital. The plaintiff alleges that in early March 2020, he began to explore ways to provide telemedicine if COVID-19 continued to spread and providers were not allowed to provide in-person services. After the plaintiff was advised by his personal physician that he was significantly at risk of contracting COVID-19 and to shelter in place, the plaintiff began performing his duties remotely on March 17, 2020. The plaintiff alleges that although his performance did not suffer as a result of using telemedicine, he was told on March 31, 2020, that he had to return to the office because “patient-facing” staff were no longer permitted to work remotely due to a change in the telecommuting policy. According to the plaintiff, although he requested a reasonable accommodation and attached a letter from his doctor ordering him to work from home due to his health condition and his age, his request to work remotely was ignored. Ultimately, the plaintiff received a letter stating that his refusal to perform services on site was a breach of his services agreement, and his employment and clinical privileges were terminated effective April 6, 2020. 

Gargiulo v. Dr. Ernie F. Soto PA, et al. (Broward County, Florida)
The plaintiff, a dental hygienist, alleges that her employment was terminated in violation of the Florida Whistleblower Protection Act. The plaintiff alleges that defendants were violating OSHA, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Small Business Administration (SBA) loan requirements, IRS withholding statutes and defrauding the Department of Economic Opportunity of unemployment monies. Among other things, the plaintiff claims that when the defendant obtained $630,000 in monies from Emergency Disaster, PPP and SBA loans, the defendant used the money for personal matters – including the purchase of a rare, late 1960s Camaro – rather than the prescribed purposes for the loans. The plaintiff alleges she was terminated shortly after inquiring about appropriate PPE to her employer, and after sharing “the truth of the inadequate and inappropriate lack of protection with her fellow office colleagues on a private interoffice forum,” in retaliation for sharing safety information “and to teach the other ancillary staff a lesson.”

Lin v. CGIT Systems, Inc. (District of Massachusetts)
The plaintiff, a 55-year old Chinese-American with high blood pressure, claims he was discriminated against because of his disability, age, race, and national origin in violation of the Massachusetts Anti-Discrimination law. The plaintiff alleges that on March 16, 2020, he obtained oral consent from his manager to work from home, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 25, the plaintiff’s general manager instructed all employees who were working from home to report to the office location for work on March 27. The plaintiff communicated with his manager that he wanted to comply with the governor’s stay at home order by working from home, and was concerned about social distancing in the office, given his high blood pressure. The plaintiff submitted a formal request to work from home, which was denied by the general manager. The plaintiff alleges that two other employees in his department were granted their work from home requests. The plaintiff alleges that on March 31, the president of the company told him he needed to report to the office to continue his employment. The plaintiff claims he reiterated his concerns and informed the president that all of his work could be handled remotely, and was terminated the same day for “job abandonment.” The plaintiff alleges that his manager told other employees that “he needed to make an example of Plaintiff” so that “people [wouldn’t] take sick or vacation time because they were concerned about coming in to work in [the] office location due to COVID-19.”

June 2, 2020
Rumble v. Jamac Steel, Inc. (San Bernardino County, California)
The plaintiff, a sales department employee, alleges among other things that, in violation of California law: (1) she was discriminated against because of her pregnancy, (2) her employer interfered with her pregnancy leave, (3) her employer retaliated against her for taking a pregnancy disability leave, and (4) her employer retaliated against her for complaining about the unsafe working environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff alleges that her employer was considered an essential business and was permitted to continue to operate following the implementation of California’s statewide stay-at-home order. The plaintiff alleges that she was concerned about contracting COVID-19, given her pregnancy, and that she asked her employer to implement safety precautions in the workplace, including ensuring that there were sufficient cleaning supplies and face masks. The plaintiff alleges that her employer failed to provide the requested supplies and that other employees “ridiculed [the plaintiff’s] concerns for safety in the workplace.” The plaintiff alleges that “other employees refused to wear face masks,” “refused to practice social distancing,” and would “intentionally cough[] on her when she walked nearby.” The plaintiff complained to her managers about these other employees, and discussed her upcoming need for a pregnancy-related leave of absence. The plaintiff alleges that one day after that discussion, her employer placed an advertisement to seek a replacement for her position, and terminated her.

Burden v. Everglades Preparatory Academy, Inc. (Palm Beach County, Florida)
The plaintiff was an assistant principal at a preparatory academy. He alleges that the academy attempted to force him to work in person at the school during the COVID-19 pandemic, in violation of unspecified county and federal law, even though students were attending school remotely. The plaintiff refused to work in person. Further, he alleges that the school wanted him to report false attendance numbers, and that he refused to do so. He alleges that as a result of his refusals to work in person and report false attendance numbers, his employment was terminated. He brings one cause of action for whistleblower retaliation under Florida Statutes section 448.101-105.

Graham v. Barrier Technologies, LLC, et al. (Southern District of Florida) 
The plaintiff, a former embroiderer for a PPE manufacturer, claims that the defendants unlawfully terminated her employment in violation of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA; part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act). The plaintiff alleges that she sought medical treatment for COVID-19 symptoms, and was advised to self-isolate for at least seven days. Prior to the plaintiff’s return to work, the defendants terminated the plaintiff’s employment, citing economic conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims that the defendants retaliated against her for taking sick leave and failed to pay her for her sick leave, in violation of the EPSLA. 

June 1, 2020

Castaneda v. Niagara Bottling LLC 
(San Bernardino County, California)
The plaintiff, a 61 year-old maintenance mechanic who suffers from diabetes and asthma, alleges violations of California law including: (1) he was discriminated against because of his age and disability, (2) his employer failed to provide a reasonable accommodation for his disability, and (3) his employer retaliated against him for requesting an accommodation and by raising concerns about discrimination and treatment in the workplace. Around the same time that the COVID-19 pandemic began, the plaintiff began experiencing “general pain,” which forced him to leave work early to be hospitalized. The plaintiff was instructed “that he was at high risk of being infected with COVID-19” and “that it was not medically advisable for him to return to work at that time,” and he was placed on medical leave by his primary care doctor. The plaintiff alleges that his employer informed him that if he did not see the employer’s workers’ compensation doctor and return to work, his “job would be in jeopardy.” The plaintiff complied, and the workers’ compensation doctor extended his medical leave for 45 days. However, the plaintiff alleges that immediately after leaving the employer’s doctor’s office, the plaintiff received a call from his supervisor that he needed to return to the doctor’s office. The plaintiff returned, and after another examination, the doctor released the plaintiff to return to work that same day. The plaintiff returned to work, and subsequently emailed his supervisors expressing concerns about his high risk of being infected by COVID-19, the lack of social distancing in the workplace, and the employer’s failure to abide by CDC guidelines. The plaintiff was offered a severance for his resignation, which the plaintiff did not accept because he was unwilling to waive his rights to sue, and instead resigned without the severance package so he could pursue this lawsuit.

Busch v. Iowa Dermatology Clinic, P.L.C., et al. (Polk County, Iowa)
In a third complaint against the same dermatology clinic, the plaintiff, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, alleges wrongful termination and breach of her employment contract, in violation of Iowa law. The complaint alleges that the defendant employer “terminated Plaintiffs employment without notice, allegedly ‘for Cause’ [sic], despite the fact that Defendants did not have ‘cause,’” and that the defendant employer provided no “notice of any deficiency or non-performance of her contractual or employment duties prior to or upon her termination.” The plaintiff claims that the defendant employer “encouraged and expected [the plaintiff] to violate” “governmental restrictions and guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” and wrongfully terminated her “in retaliation for her refusal to violate these public policies.” 

Sumner v. Lincare Holdings Inc. et al. (Duval County, Florida)
The plaintiff, a former operations manager for the defendants, filed a single count complaint alleging that the defendants terminated her in violation of the Florida Whistleblower Act after she reported safety concerns to her district manager during the COVID-19 pandemic. In support of her claim, the plaintiff alleges the defendants were not taking adequate health and safety precautions—including, for example, allowing patients unfettered access to the defendants’ office without appointments, not providing thermometers, not providing sufficient PPE, and allowing an employee with COVID-19 symptoms to return to work even though the employee was still exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. The plaintiff alleges that one of her subordinates lodged an internal complaint with the plaintiff about the employee with COVID-19 symptoms, which the plaintiff reported to her district manager. She alleges that she also reported to her district manager that there was insufficient PPE, insufficient testing and monitoring equipment for employees and others, and inadequate office space to maintain social distancing. Subsequently, after the employee who complained to the plaintiff also complained to the defendants’ safety department about her COVID-19 safety concerns (and another employee who reported to the plaintiff complained to defendants about safety concerns), the district manager called the plaintiff and accused her of creating an environment where employees did not want to work in the office and did not feel safe. During the phone conference, the district manager then issued the plaintiff a verbal warning for disrespectful and insubordinate conduct, and shortly thereafter terminated the plaintiff’s employment, calling it a “layoff.” 

Peake v. Louisville Metro Government (Jefferson County, Kentucky)
The plaintiff alleges she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on sexual harassment in violation of KRS 344.010, was terminated in retaliation for reporting a sexual assault in violation of KRS 344.280, and was wrongfully terminated under the Kentucky Whistleblower’s Act. The plaintiff alleges that she was sexually assaulted by an employee, and reported the incident to her supervisor. After an investigation into the matter, the employee that allegedly sexually assaulted the plaintiff received a disciplinary action notice that recommended that the employee be suspended for 10 days. The plaintiff also received a disciplinary action notice concluding that she “exposed potential new hires … to COVID-19” and recommended termination. The plaintiff claims that the disciplinary action notice’s conclusion that she exposed potential new hires to COVID-19 is false and that the recommendation for termination “constitutes unlawful retaliation for Plaintiff’s complaining about sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

Diana Montejano v. Pacific Living Properties, Inc., et al. (Fresno County, California)
The plaintiff, a property manager, claims wrongful termination in violation of public policy; disability discrimination, retaliation, and failure to accommodate in violation of California law; and California labor law violations. Among other purported labor code violations, the plaintiff alleges that her employers misclassified her as exempt, required her to work overtime without pay, and failed to provide her meal and rest breaks. The plaintiff also alleges that in March 2020, she was placed on a short medical leave as a result of adverse medical effects – including stress, anxiety and depression – caused by harassment from a coworker. In that instance, she claims, she was forced to use sick and vacation time rather than receive compensation under the worker’s compensation statute, the availability of which she was not informed. The plaintiff further alleges that on April 6, 2020, she requested to work intermittent days as a result of her son’s school closure due to COVID-19. When she returned to work the next day, she claimed, she was terminated in retaliation for seeking an accommodation in the form of time off to care for her son as a result of the school closure.

May 31, 2020
Jennie Valdivia v. Paducah Center for Health and Rehabilitation (Western District of Kentucky)
The plaintiff, a certified nursing assistant, alleges she was denied paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and was terminated for leaving work to “seek treatment for symptoms that could have potentially been COVID-19,” in violation of the EPSLA and Kentucky law. The plaintiff claims she arrived at work and took her own temperature, which read 99.8. About 30 minutes later, she took her temperature again, and it allegedly had risen to 100.1. The director of nursing was allegedly unavailable, but the assistant director of nursing told her to go home. According to the plaintiff, the director of nursing called her later that evening and told her that without a doctor’s note, her absence was unexcused. The plaintiff then visited her doctor and found out she did not have COVID-19, and texted a picture of her doctor’s note to her supervisor. The next day, the plaintiff was terminated for “being aggressive with patients.” She alleges this reason is a pretext for the defendant’s retaliation against her for seeking further evaluation for COVID-19 symptoms, in violation of the EPSLA. 

May 29, 2020
Hawkins v. Core Health & Fitness, LLC (State of Washington Superior Court)
The plaintiff, former global vice president of sales and marketing for the defendant, alleges that he was discharged in violation of Washington disability discrimination law. The plaintiff alleges he was regarded as having a disability, as he was ridiculed for his weight on several occasions. The defendant allegedly terminated the plaintiff due to the economic impact of COVID-19, but the plaintiff claims that given his “willingness to reduce his pay by fifty percent – an offer that defendant rejected – and the assistance of Payroll Protection Plan, the pretextual nature of defendant’s rationale for terminating [him was] easy to see.” 

Crowe v. The Akron Art Museum (Summit County, Ohio)
The plaintiff, a museum’s family events and activities coordinator, alleges that she was retaliated against and terminated for joining a letter authored by a group of employees to the museum’s Board of Trustees regarding “a series of claims of mismanagement, hostile work environment, sexual and racial harassment, and the slanderous actions of [the executive director of the museum].” The plaintiff alleges that she was subsequently given assurances by her employer and its legal counsel that she would not be subjected to retaliation if she participated in the investigation of the executive director. After participating in the investigation, the plaintiff alleges that she “was systematically subjected to new and overbearing oversight, criticism, reductions of resources for her projects, diminishment in her ability to facilitate family events, disciplinary action, and other unjustified and unwarranted harassment by her superiors and … management.” The plaintiff alleges that in March 2020, she was notified that she was being laid off due to the COVID-19 and would be recalled after the pandemic, but her employer subsequently advertised a posting for her job. The plaintiff alleges that these actions “constitute[] retaliation against [p]laintiff.”

Beltran v. 2 Deer Park Drive Operations LLC, et al. (Mercer County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff was employed as a maintenance building technician for defendants. He brings claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, perception of disability under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, discrimination under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law, unlawful discharge under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act, and interference under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. He alleges that his mother tested positive for COVID-19, and that he received a letter from the Hamilton Township Division of Health advising him that he needed to quarantine for two weeks. The plaintiff alleges that his employers told him that he was required to return to work less than two weeks later, and that when he did not do so because he was obeying the Division of Health letter, he was terminated. 

May 28, 2020
Tana L. Barles v. Incite Rehab, LLC (Faulkner County, Arkansas)
The plaintiff, a certified occupational therapist assistant, claims that she was wrongfully discharged in violation of public policy. The plaintiff alleges that she began exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, and although she tested negative, her employer directed her to stay at home until her symptoms subsided, and refused to pay her for the time off. The plaintiff alleges that despite her outstanding performance history with the company, she was abruptly terminated without explanation, in retaliation for taking the employer-imposed leave. 

Haile et al. v. Steitz & Der Manouel Inc. dba Eco Water of Central California, et al. (Sacramento County, California)
The plaintiff, a sales representative, alleges that the defendant employer refused to comply with a government shutdown order, and that the company president “defiantly stated that ‘until the government came and put locks on my door then we will stay open and do business.” The plaintiff alleges that she informed the defendant that she was pregnant, and raised concerns “regarding violating the shelter in place orders and for the health risks from potential exposure to COVID-19.” The plaintiff alleges that she was placed on a leave of absence, and terminated two days later. As a result, she brings claims for retaliation, wrongful termination based on sex and in violation of public policy, and alleges that her employer failed to pay timely wages upon termination, in violation of California law. The plaintiff also brings a class action seeking to recover allegedly unpaid business expenses relating to employees’ automobiles. 

Lin v. Peacehealth (Whatcom County, Washington)
The plaintiff, a physician, claims he was terminated in violation of Washington public policy. The plaintiff alleges that during the COVID-19 pandemic, he became concerned that the hospital where he worked was not taking adequate measures to protect the health and welfare of its healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff emailed the managers of the hospital stating the hospital “is so far behind when it comes to protecting its patients and the community but even worse when it comes to protecting the staff.” That same day, the plaintiff posted the text of his email to his personal Facebook account. Over the next week, the plaintiff continued to post on social media about COVID-19, his employer’s response, and the lack of PPE. The plaintiff alleges that he eventually received a text message from the vice president informing the plaintiff that his shifts at the hospital had been covered, effectively terminating the plaintiff. Accordingly, the plaintiff seeks damages for loss of compensation and benefits, emotional distress, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment.

Peloso v. Arciero & Sons, Inc. et al. (San Luis Obispo County, CA)
The plaintiff, a 90-year-old former office manager and CFO of the defendant, who was classified as an independent contractor, filed a twelve-count complaint against his former employer and three individual defendants, including wrongful termination, age discrimination under state law, disability discrimination under state law, retaliation for opposing violations of FEHA, and misclassification as an independent contractor. In support of his claims, the plaintiff alleges that his supervisor told him he was too old and asked when he was going to retire. After the plaintiff told his supervisor that he enjoyed his job and did not want to retire, the plaintiff alleges his supervisor harassed him by making various ageist remarks, including telling him he couldn’t handle the work anymore because he was getting too old, telling him that he had gotten old and slow, and telling him that he was slowing down and was not the worker he used to be.  Following these remarks and his expressed intent to remain on the job, the plaintiff alleges that he was told by the CEO and his supervisor, in mid-March 2020, to take two weeks leave because he was older and they wanted to protect him from becoming infected with COVID-19. However, according to the plaintiff, the defendants failed to discuss any alternative accommodations (such as allowing him to isolate in an office, work from home, or work part-time), and instead terminated him via email while he was on COVID-19 related leave. 

Readus v. Trueblue Inc. and PeopleReady, Inc. (Eastern District of Michigan)
The plaintiff, a staffing specialist, alleges wrongful termination in violation of Michigan public policy and the Michigan Whistleblower Protection Act. The plaintiff alleges that his worksite remained open, despite a shutdown order from the governor and the fact that certain other of the defendants’ locations were operating remotely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims that he took personal leave to “avoid having to unlawfully break quarantine and expose himself to risk,” and that when his leave expired, he complained to his supervisor about being required to “break quarantine.” The plaintiff further alleges that he complained to the defendant employer “that he would be subject to stop by the police when traveling to work,” and inquired as to why a remote work plan was not put in place. The defendant employer thereafter terminated the plaintiff. According to the plaintiff, the defendant employer falsely explained that the reason for his termination was a “massive layoff” (which plaintiff claims did not actually occur). According to his complaint, the true reasons for his termination were his complaints about the defendants’ purported violations of the shutdown order, his objections to “being forced to violate the Order and commit a criminal misdemeanor as a condition of his employment,” and the fact that he was preparing to report the supposed misconduct “to law enforcement.” With regard to his whistleblower claim, the plaintiff alleges that he was “about to report Defendants’ violation of Executive Order 2020-21,” and that he communicated that intent by complaining to the defendant employer and “by requesting that correspondence about his complaint be recorded or conducted in writing.” 

May 27, 2020
Gaya v. Person Directed Supports, Inc. (Lehigh County, Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff worked as a direct support professional for an assisted living facility. He alleges that he became ill with a fever, and when he informed his supervisor, he was told to stay home. The plaintiff alleges that two days later, he went to the doctor, and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, was advised to self-isolate for five days. The plaintiff alleges that at the end of the five days, he called his supervisor to confirm he could return to work, but that his supervisor put someone from human resources on the line who informed him that he was terminated because he did not have a doctor’s note for the first two days that he was absent, even though his supervisor directed him to stay home. The plaintiff brings claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy and violations of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. 

Nathan Singh v. Crossover Health Medical Group (Santa Clara County, California)
The plaintiff, a doctor, sued his former employer for allegedly terminating him in retaliation for making complaints about being forced to work during the COVID-19 pandemic with inadequate safety precautions. The defendant allegedly told the plaintiff that the clinic where he worked would continue operating as usual during the COVID-19 pandemic until there were not enough healthy staff to operate the clinic. Moreover, the plaintiff alleges the defendant told him that he would have to reuse PPE, and that the defendant did not follow recommended COVID-19 safety guidelines. The plaintiff alleges that in retaliation, he was wrongfully terminated three days after making the complaints at a staff meeting. He alleges that the reasons the defendant gave for his termination—the “tone” of his complaints about safety, a supposed “failure to fit into the company culture,” and that it had purportedly received “anonymous complaints about his mannerisms and level of politeness”—were pretextual, and that his termination violates California state law and common law.

Taylor v. Five Star Senior Living, Inc. (Greene County, Missouri)
The plaintiff was a resident assistant at an assisted living facility. She alleges that she provided care for, and had direct contact with, two residents who exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that after the two residents received positive COVID-19 diagnoses, she informed her employer that she should self-quarantine for fourteen days. She alleges that her employer denied her request, and that when she proceeded to self-quarantine, her employer told her that she had resigned. She brings claims for wrongful discharge and fraud. 

Drayone Bland and Jennifer Deluca v. Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia (Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania)
The plaintiffs, a chaplain and a registered nurse, claim wrongful termination in violation of Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Act and public policy. The plaintiffs allege that they objected to their employer’s failure to comply with proper public safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the employer’s failure to provide proper protective equipment and its failure to test newly admitted patients for COVID-19, subjecting the plaintiffs and other employees to potential COVID-19 exposure. The plaintiffs claim that after they voiced their concerns to their employer and OSHA, they were terminated. One plaintiff claims he was terminated purportedly for failing to “pass the probationary period” and the other plaintiff claims she was terminated for her social media post commenting on the employer’s “lack of proper protective equipment.”

Pezza v. Landscape Maintenance Services, Inc., et al. (District of New Jersey)
The plaintiff, an hourly maintenance employee, alleges the defendant employer, a landscaping company, terminated him while he was on medical leave. The plaintiff claims that the defendant employer violated state and federal disability law by terminating him because his doctor extended his medical leave due to concerns about COVID-19. In March 2020, the plaintiff took a medical leave due to “heart-related complications,” and in early April 2020, the plaintiff submitted a note from his doctor to the defendant employer stating that, due to his heart condition, the plaintiff must limit his potential exposure to COVID-19 and should therefore self-quarantine for an addition four weeks. Thereafter, while the plaintiff was in self-quarantine, the defendant employer terminated him. In addition to his disability discrimination claims, the plaintiff also asserts violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey Wage and Hour Law, alleging that the defendant employer failed to pay overtime wages, and that his termination was also in retaliation for his complaints concerning the defendant employer’s failure to pay such overtime wages. 

May 26, 2020
Dustin Robbins v. Dallas County, Iowa; Douglas Lande; Chad Leonard, both individually and in their official capacities (Dallas County, Iowa) 
According to the plaintiff, a former correctional officer in a county sheriff’s office, his employer issued an email “that a co-worker had tested positive for COVID-19, but because the employee was symptom-free they would be returning to work ‘with precautions.’” The plaintiff says that he and several of his co-workers discussed their fears that an “infected co-worker” returned to work “prematurely.” The plaintiff claims that he called the Iowa Department Corrections “hotline” and reported that the “Dallas County Sheriff’s Office was allowing an employee infected with COVID-19 to return to work, creating a potential significant health hazard to staff and inmates in the form of the spread of COVID-19.” The plaintiff claims that within an hour his report, his employer issued an email “stating that the infected co-worker would not be returning to work at that time after all.” The plaintiff claims that he then raised a concern about potential infection risk in a group meeting, and that his superior accused him of going to the media and the Department of Health, which the plaintiff denies. The plaintiff claims that later that day, another superior chastised him for making an external report. The plaintiff claims that his superior told him to leave the premises and not come back. The plaintiff alleges unlawful retaliation in violation of public policy, and  seeks compensatory damages, reinstatement with back pay, attorney fees and costs, and other equitable relief. 

Monroe v. Southeast SNF LLC d/b/a Southeast Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (Bexar County, Texas)
The plaintiff, a vocational nurse, alleges that her employer was grossly negligent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that she was terminated in violation of the Texas Health and Safety Code and the Texas Occupational Code. The plaintiff alleges that Texas Health and Human Services mandated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing facilities must: (1) “implement screening protocols for anyone entering their facility;” (2) “screen staff for COVID-19 using guidelines issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;” (3) “maintain strong infection prevention and control programs to prevent the spread of communicable diseases;” and (4) “check for fever of staff…and provide personal protective equipment to residents or staff.” In March 2020, the plaintiff reported several violations of the law to her supervisors, informing them that: (1) the plaintiff was not provided PPE; (2) a co-worker had entered the facility without washing his hands or having his temperature checked; and (3) employees were leaving the facility doors open, all in violation of government mandates. The plaintiff also alleges that her employer was grossly negligent by “failing to provide rules regarding COVID-19 minimization, failing to warn [her] of the potential COVID-19 outbreak, failing to provide PPE as required, failing to provide a reasonably safe work place, and failing to hire competent co-employees.” The plaintiff claims that she “requested time off due to her advanced age and her heightened risk of injury should she come in contact with COVID-19,” but her request was denied and she was terminated. As a result, the plaintiff is seeking statutory and common law damages, including damages for past and future loss of earning capacity, exemplary damages, mental anguish, lost wages, exemplary damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs.

Rayer v. The Venue at Winding Hills, Inc. (Duchess County, New York)
The plaintiff, an event planner for the defendant employer, claims she was terminated in violation of the New York Whistleblower law. The plaintiff alleges that she was a non-essential employee, and that defendant required her to work onsite in violation of an executive order issued by Governor Cuomo mandating that all non-essential businesses cease onsite operations and permit non-essential employees to telework to the maximum extent possible in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that after she began working at home as required by the executive order, her supervisor first required her to attend several meetings on premises and then directed her to return to work on premises full-time. The plaintiff claims she expressed concern to her supervisor on April 21, 2020, about being required to work onsite, about the lack of PPE, and about the lack of adherence to social distancing requirements. The plaintiff alleges the defendant informed her that she was terminated. Subsequently, in a written notice of termination, the plaintiff was told that her position was eliminated as part of a workforce reduction. The plaintiff alleges the defendant subsequently posted an advertisement on Indeed.com for the event coordinator position she held. The plaintiff claims the defendant’s stated reason for her termination was pretextual, and that the real reason for her termination was because she voiced concerns to her supervisor about the violations of the executive order, which exposed the plaintiff and other employees and members of the public to COVID-19. In addition, the plaintiff claims that the defendant has violated New York Labor Law, alleging that her employment agreement did not properly address commission payments, and that the defendant failed to provide her with the required statutory wage notice.

May 25, 2020
Gavilanes v. Lusardi Ltd., et al. (Queens County, New York)
The plaintiff was employed as a cook at Lusardi, a restaurant in New York. The plaintiff alleges that he was told to go home until further notice after he coughed in front of a supervisor. He alleges that even after two weeks with no symptoms of COVID-19, he was told that he should not come back to work, and that his final paycheck was in the mail. The plaintiff brings a claim for discrimination in violation of the New York City Administrative Code, as well as various claims for wage and hour violations. 

Jackson v. Midnight Express Power Boats, Inc. (Southern District of Florida) 
The plaintiff, a former employee of a powerboat-building company, alleges that he was unlawfully discharged in violation of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) (part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act). The plaintiff claims, that “[f]or his own safety and that of those around him,” he needed to leave work due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The plaintiff requested sick leave while self-quarantining, and was terminated. Given the temporal proximity of his request for leave and his termination, the plaintiff claims that the defendant employer retaliated against him for attempting to seek leave under the EPSLA. 

May 22, 2020
Collins v. ASO Safety Solutions (Morris County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a shop foreman, alleges he was terminated in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The plaintiff alleges that while he was on vacation for a week, his employer instituted a new policy regarding a two-week self-quarantine for employees who had recently traveled. Upon return from his vacation, the plaintiff self-quarantined for two weeks, and during that time, the plaintiff alleges that he “was aware from co-workers that [his employer] had not implemented safeguards to protect employees from COVID.” As a result, the plaintiff advised his employer that “he was not coming back to work after self-quarantine for fear of being infected and potentially exposing his elderly mother….” The plaintiff alleges that “he was asked to reconsider returning to work or resign from his position,” in response to which the plaintiff advised his employer that he had no plan of resigning. The plaintiff subsequently requested leave under the CARES Act in order to care for his nephew, and was subsequently terminated. The plaintiff also alleges that he was retaliated against for “voicing his concerns about what the plaintiff believed to be violations of the law and Executive Orders engaged in by” his employer.

Morales v. Sunrise Meats, Inc., et al. (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff, an hourly employee working in various positions, including butcher, alleges the defendant employer, a convenience store and butcher shop, terminated him for complaining about the employer’s failure to follow safety guidelines promulgated by the CDC due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims that by failing to follow CDC guidelines, the defendant employer violated OSHA regulations, and the plaintiff’s complaint to the employer was therefore protected activity under Florida’s whistleblower law. Notably, the plaintiff also includes FLSA collective action claims on behalf of similarly-situated hourly employees, for the defendant’s alleged failure to pay overtime wages.

May 21, 2020
Spells v. Physician and Tactical Healthcare Services LLC dba Paths LLC (District of New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a Medicare billing specialist, alleges that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The plaintiff alleges that he informed his employer when he was instructed by a doctor to self-quarantine for 14 days after he began to experience symptoms, “some of which resembled COVID-19 symptoms.” The plaintiff claims that the defendant employer refused to provide him with paid sick leave, and “advised him that filing for unemployment benefits would be ‘better than taking sick leave.’” After he tested negative for COVID-19, the plaintiff sought permission to return to work in a remote capacity (as most other employees had allegedly been permitted to do), but that the defendant employer claimed that his “position does not allow the work from home option.” The plaintiff claims he has not been returned to work, despite being medically cleared to do so, and alleges that “he was terminated from his employment and not rehired with Defendant . . . as a result of his requests for paid sick leave under the FFCRA/FLSA.”

May 20, 2020
Andrea Hinich v. Norwood Life Society, Inc, et al. (Cook County, Illinois)
The plaintiff, an assistant director of nursing, claims wrongful termination in violation of Illinois’s Nursing Home Care Act and Whistleblower Act, and retaliation in violation of public policy. The plaintiff alleges that she raised serious safety issues related to COVID-19 that were “disregarded and ignored by her supervisors.” The plaintiff claims that after she refused to “work under conditions which contravened government-mandated safety guidance,” she was terminated without warning, purportedly for “insubordination.”

Kraemer v. Golding Radiology, Ltd. (Washoe County, Nevada)
The plaintiff, a radiologist, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, and money damages, for breach of his employment and shareholder agreement. The plaintiff alleges that when his relationship with the CEO began to deteriorate, the plaintiff tried to amicably sever ties with his employer and discussed with the president possible job opportunities he was examining, and the impact of the non-compete provision in his employment agreement. The plaintiff alleges that he was subsequently terminated “for cause” after this discussion. The plaintiff claims that the “termination ‘for cause’ coincide[d] with a significant drop in volume of work during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and the "for cause" designation “was pretextual, as [plaintiff’s] services were no longer needed due to the drop in volume [of work] and his termination was a way to save money by avoiding having to pay [plaintiff’s] severance package.”

Bryant v. Gray Construction Inc. (Multnomah County, Oregon)
The plaintiff, a temporary employee who worked as a temperature taker at a construction site during the COVID-19 pandemic, alleges that the defendant discriminated against her and retaliated against her because she reported to the defendant information she believed to be in violation of a state or federal law, rule or regulation. As part of its COVID-19 screening process, the defendant construction company required employees to have their temperatures taken before being allowed entry to the construction site. The plaintiff alleges she reported that the defendant was allowing employees to enter the construction site in violation of safety rules, including use of faulty thermometers. Specifically, the plaintiff says she was directed to allow employees to enter the construction site under the following circumstances: (1) the thermometer malfunctioned and did not take a reading; (2) the thermometer read 100.4° or higher on the first reading, at which point she was directed to re-take the temperature behind the ear to obtain a lower reading; and (3) employees were instructed to place cold drinks on their heads before having their temperature taken to get a lower reading. The plaintiff also alleges she reported that employees were entering the construction site without wearing required masks. The plaintiff alleges the defendant told the temporary agency she worked for that it wanted to “go in a different direction,” which resulted in her termination.

May 19, 2020
Carnival v. Jim’s Towing Service, Inc. (Kern County, California)
The plaintiff, a tow truck driver, claims wrongful termination in violation of California public policy and California Labor Code Sections 232.5, 1102.5(b) and 6301(a)(1). He alleges that his employer ordered one of its tow truck drivers to pick up a motorist whose wife had COVID-19 and who was himself a “likely carrier of COVID-19.” The plaintiff alleges that upon learning of that dispatch by reviewing records, he discussed the assignment with his fellow employees, and “disclosed to his co-employees and [the director of towing] that [the defendant employer] failed to do everything reasonably necessary to protect the life, health, and safety of its employees.” The plaintiff claims he told the director of towing that the employer should have told the other tow truck drivers that a driver was dispatched to assist a motorist who likely had COVID-19. The plaintiff alleges that in response, the director of towing fired the plaintiff for discussing working conditions with his fellow employees, for complaining of unsafe working conditions, and for reporting violations of law.  

Troy v. Mark Kriwinsky DDS, Inc., et al. (Northern District of Ohio)
The plaintiff, a dental assistant, alleges that the dentist she worked for refused to follow the health and safety regulations imposed by Ohio’s governor in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims she complained about the company’s refusal to follow the restrictions put in place, and was given the option to take a leave of absence until the company was permitted to reopen for dental procedures. When the plaintiff sought to return from the leave of absence, she was allegedly told that the company would “stay with the staff [they had].” The plaintiff brings a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, as well as unrelated claims for failure to pay overtime.

May 18, 2020
Gasper v. Mack Industries (Medina County, Ohio)
The plaintiffs, book keepers and a receptionist at a concrete manufacturing and supply business, allege wrongful termination in violation of Ohio law. The plaintiffs claim that their employer falsely explained that they were being terminated in connection with a “reorganization of job positions to consolidate one or more positions with the same or similar responsibilities because of  change in business conditions” arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs allege that the true reason for their terminations was to replace them with younger, less-qualified employees, in violation of Ohio RC 4112.02(A).

May 15, 2020
Celsa Garcia v. Texas Market Research Group LLC dba Reconnaissance Market Research (ReconMR) (District Court, Hays County, Texas)
The plaintiff, formerly employed as a call center manager for a market research company, claims that she was fired because she would not allow employees under her supervision to work at the defendant's call center in Bryan, Texas, when a COVID-19 shelter-in-place order was in place. The plaintiff asserts that the defendant employer was not an essential business and therefore only was permitted to conduct minimum basic operations at its call center in Brazos County, Texas. Per the plaintiff, she so notified her superiors and complied with the county order, informing all 147 market research agents in the call center to stay home and wait for work-from-home options (which were under development). The plaintiff claims that she then received a question from a market research agent about the availability of unemployment compensation benefit options if agents were not equipped to work from home. One of the plaintiff’s superiors thereafter allegedly contacted one of the plaintiff’s subordinates and instructed the subordinate “to call agents to see whether they would be willing to come into the call center to work if they were unable to utilize the work from home option.” The plaintiff claims that, when she “learned of this directive” she “immediately emailed” her superiors and advised that if the employer “allowed agents to work at the call center in violation of the Brazos County [order] she would not participate in the violation by managing these agents or providing support staff to assist these agents.” The plaintiff claims that “[l]ess than 24 hours following this email” her employment was terminated on March 31, 2020, via conference call. The plaintiff claims wrongful discharge based on her refusal to commit an illegal act she reportedly thinks would have subjected her to criminal penalties. The plaintiff seeks loss of income, benefits, emotional distress, exemplary, and other damages.

Sarah Cusick v. Medstar Health Inc. and Washington Hospital Center Corporation (Superior Court, District of Columbia)
The plaintiff (a self-described “accomplished student and young professional”) claims that she was wrongfully terminated from her position as a hearing and speech assistant after she “reported and protested the failure of senior managers, including her supervisors, to ensure that the Hospital’s patients, staff, and visitors were properly protected against exposure [to COVID-19].” In her role at the defendant hospital, the plaintiff conducted newborn hearing screenings; assisted diagnostic tests on inpatients and outpatients; and performed administrative office support functions. In her complaint, the plaintiff broadly presents her critical analysis of – and concerns about – the hospital’s patient screening, access, scheduling, distancing, and processing protocols; personal protective equipment; and sanitation processes (at the beginning of the pandemic). In her complaint, she admits that, in mid-March 2020, she uploaded video of the hospital cafeteria, “directing her post to the Twitter accounts of [the Mayor] and the Hospital” with a request that the mayor’s executive order be amended to cover public areas of medical facilities, which the plaintiff opined posed safety risk. Two days later, the plaintiff again sleuthed with her personal cell phone, recording herself entering the hospital and passing through the front desk without being screened. The plaintiff then “walked to another entrance… and requested to record a conversation with a security guard about check-in procedures.” The plaintiff uploaded these two videos to Twitter (with commentary) and tagged the hospital’s Twitter account. After a discussion with coworkers about potentially rescheduling non-emergent patient appointments, the plaintiff “tweeted an update that MedStar was finally in the process of updating its rescheduling protocol for non-emergent patients.” That day she recorded and posted new video of the hospital’s cafeteria, with commentary. The plaintiff claims that shortly after these social media posts, she was asked to meet with management and was told that she had violated her “social media contract” and had violated patient and employee rights by uploading videos of patients’ and physicians’ faces. The plaintiff reportedly advised management that, “as a last resort to get management’s attention to … time-sensitive issues, she had turned to social media.” The plaintiff claims wrongful discharge in violation of public policy and requests compensatory and consequential damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. 

Evans v. Kast Construction Company LLC (Southern District of Florida)
The plaintiff, a former interior superintendent at a construction company, alleges that he was unlawfully discharged in violation of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) (part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)). The plaintiff alleges that the defendant gave him no “reasons for his termination, except that he was not a good fit.” The plaintiff claims that the actual reason he was terminated was “for taking leave in accordance with the FFCRA/EPSLA when Plaintiff was unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because he was subject to a State and local quarantine and/or isolation order related to COVID-19.” Thus, the plaintiff alleges an unlawful discharge. 

May 13, 2020
Shuttleworth v. Eriez Manufacturing Co. (Erie County, Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, the CEO of a manufacturing company, claims wrongful termination in violation of Pennsylvania public policy. He alleges that the employer’s owner and chairman of the board repeatedly insisted that the company remain open and “put the burden on the Commonwealth to force [the defendant] to close,” despite a Pennsylvania executive order that required the closure of all “non-life-sustaining businesses.” The plaintiff alleges that to comply with the executive order, he made a good-faith determination that the company was not a life-sustaining business, and was required to close. The plaintiff claims he was terminated as a result by the board of directors based on his attempt to comply with the executive order and temporarily close the business.

Boshell v. Paul Phillips, et al. (Somerset County, New Jersey)
The plaintiff, a former employee who has asthma, alleges various violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and wrongful termination in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The plaintiff alleges that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the related executive orders issued by the governor of New Jersey, the defendant closed two of its offices and placed employees on furlough. After the defendant applied for and received a loan through the Payroll Protection Program, the plaintiff alleges that the defendant instructed all employees, including the plaintiff, to return to work on April 27, 2020. The plaintiff claims she was concerned about returning to work because of a lack of appropriate safety precautions in dealing with patients, a lack of PPE, and because of her underlying medical condition, which put her in a high risk category for contracting COVID-19. After the plaintiff spoke to her supervisor about her concerns, the plaintiff says she sent a follow-up email to her supervisor and Dr. Phillips, an individual defendant, requesting that she be allowed to remain on furlough or be placed on leave. The plaintiff also asked in the email, “who’s going to be responsible for medical bills/supporting my family? If something fatal happens, is the office responsible for it?” The plaintiff alleges that following this email, Dr. Phillips told her that he was terminating her employment due to her requests, inquiries, complaints and objections and because she threatened him with liability.  

Lula Jones, CNA v. Life Care Centers of America, Inc. d/b/a Life Care Center Jacksonville (Middle District of Florida)
The plaintiff, a CNA at a Florida nursing home, alleges that she was terminated in violation of the Florida Whistleblower Protection Act and the federal Civil Rights Act of 1886. In addition to showing the executive director photographs that allegedly demonstrated “medication errors, patient neglect and the deplorable living conditions,” the plaintiff claims she complained about the purported lack of COVID-19 preparedness. The plaintiff alleges that the nursing home was hoarding PPE, and instructed the plaintiff and other staff to wear “used” cloth scarves instead of suitable masks. The plaintiff claims that after the nursing home implemented temperature checks, she was “singled out,” because she was required to pay out of pocket for COVID-19 testing despite her temperature purportedly being “just fine.” The plaintiff also alleges that her discharge (for attendance issues in 2019) was a pretext.

Fuente-Alba et al. v. Cork Alliance Inc. (Miami-Dade County, Florida)
The plaintiffs, a chief operating officer and a director of finance and accounting, allege that the defendant, a “worldwide wine distributor,” breached their employment contracts. The plaintiffs allege that the defendant, “citing COVID-19 concerns,” reduced one plaintiff’s salary by 50%, and subsequently terminated both five-year employment contracts before their expirations. The plaintiffs allege that the defendant used “the COVID-19 outbreak as an excuse to unlawfully back out of its obligations,” despite the fact that “wine sales have skyrocketed,” and “[i]n a sense, the wine distribution industry has actually benefited from the changed conditions.”

May 12, 2020
Edwin Rios v. Table Tek (Montgomery County, Pennsylvania)
The plaintiff, a crew leader in charge of assembling and maintaining pool tables, claims wrongful termination in violation of public policy and the governor’s Business Closure Order. The plaintiff alleges that his employer ordered him to drive a small, unmarked van and to “stay under the radar” while servicing clients, despite having typically driven a company van with a logo. After the plaintiff contacted his sales manager to voice his concerns that he “was being ordered to work illegally in defiance of COVID-19 Orders,” he was directed to return to work and terminated.  

May 11, 2020
Metzger v. Iowa Dermatology Clinic, P.L.C., et al. (Dallas County, Iowa)
Stocker v. Iowa Dermatology Clinic, P.L.C., et al.
(Polk County, Iowa)
In similar complaints, the plaintiffs, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and a dermatologist, allege wrongful termination and breach of their employment contracts, in violation of Iowa law. The complaints allege that the defendant employer terminated the plaintiffs for “a pretextual ‘Cause’.” The complaints also allege that the defendant clinics “encouraged employees, including the Plaintiff, to continue to see patients in person in hopes of avoiding interruption in revenue,” despite “governmental restrictions and guidelines,” and the plaintiffs claim that their terminations were in response to “attempts to follow . . . governmental restrictions and guidelines [regarding the COVID-19 pandemic] and refusal to violate them.”  

May 8, 2020
Kopit v. Beachwood Commons Assisted Living Ltd.; LifeServices Management Corporation (Ohio Court of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga County) 
After her resignation, the plaintiff, a former senior living counselor in an assisted living facility, alleges that the defendants “wrongfully terminated” her “in violation of public policy.” The plaintiff criticized defendants response to COVID-19 and claims that she requested “prudent alterations to her working conditions, in an effort to limit her exposure and the risk to both her and her immunocompromised husband.” The plaintiff’s husband was described as a “cancer survivor” who, with his age and medical history, was in a category of “heightened morbidity and mortality risks from COVID-19.” The plaintiff reportedly sought to work remotely, a request she says was denied. The plaintiff claims that she “did what any reasonable employee would do under the circumstances and resigned from her employment with Defendants.” The plaintiff seeks reinstatement, monetary damages, and attorney fees.

May 7, 2020
Crider v. Lute Supply, Co. (Boone County, Kentucky)
The plaintiff, a manager, alleges he was wrongfully terminated. He alleges that he requested intermittent leave for jury duty and to take care of his children amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiff claims that his employer initially granted his request, but that he then received a series of text messages from his supervisor harassing him about taking leave for jury duty and to care of his children during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that he was subsequently terminated in violation of Kentucky law, the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.  

Kanyuk v. Shearman & Sterling LLP (Southern District of New York)
Plaintiff, the Manager of Facilities and A/V and a 25-year employee at the defendant law firm, alleges wrongful termination and age discrimination in violation of New York law. The defendant employer explained that the plaintiff was terminated due to being “accused of receiving kickbacks from vendors.” The plaintiff claims that no details were provided, that he had no opportunity to defend himself, and that his employer “either made up the existence of the allegations or that they knew the allegations were likely false.” Plaintiff alleges that he was second oldest employee in his department, and claims that the defendant employer’s proffered reasons for his termination were “clearly a pretext for their plan to terminate their older employee in the face of the [COVID-19] business downturn.”

McIntyre v. Midwest Geriatrics, Inc. (Douglas County, Nebraska)
Plaintiff, a medical technician at an assisted living facility, was infected with COVID-19 and alleges that she was wrongfully terminated by her employer in retaliation for attempting to take time off of work under the FMLA, due to her infection. She states that her employer claimed that she had spread COVID-19 throughout the facility. Plaintiff alleges that her employer told her that she was terminated for not wearing a mask while caring for sick residents, but plaintiff asserts that she did not wear a mask because no masks were made available by her employer. Plaintiff further alleges violations of the FLSA, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA), claiming that, prior to her termination, her employer failed to pay her for time she took off to self-quarantine.

May 5, 2020
Long v. Baptist Healthcare Systems, Inc. (Whitley County, Kentucky)
Plaintiff, a registered nurse (who was also pregnant), alleges that she was terminated when she sought workers’ compensation after quarantining herself due to possible exposure to COVID-19. Plaintiff alleges that she was terminated by her employer in order to avoid her workers’ compensation claim. Plaintiff also alleges that she was terminated, “as a means to reduce the nursing staff during COVID-19 due to a reduction in elective procedure and emergency room usage and to conceal its deficiencies in protecting its employees.” 

May 4, 2020
Fulmore v. City of Englewood, et al. (Bergen County Superior Court, New Jersey)
Plaintiff, who identifies himself as a public works employee, a union steward, and an associate minister for a church, claims retaliation and discrimination and purports to bring claims under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act and federal and states civil rights statutes. Plaintiff claims that he was treated with “hostility” after he complained that the defendant city “was not providing the employees in the [Department of Public Works] with proper safety equipment and was not properly isolating/quarantining the employees.” Plaintiff also claims that a defendant supervisor “improperly and unlawfully disclosed the name of the individual who had tested positive for COVID-19 to Plaintiff.” Per Plaintiff, among other things, his supervisor told him (and not others) to self-isolate due to exposure to a coworker diagnosed with COVID-19. Plaintiff also claims that another supervisor disclosed “Plaintiff’s confidential and private health information [the fact of requested self-quarantining] to the pastor of [the church at which Plaintiff serves as an associate minister].” Plaintiff requests compensatory, punitive and emotional distress damages and other relief.

McClendon v. USA Vinyl, LLC (Franklin County, Ohio)
Plaintiff, a quality control supervisor, alleges that he was discharged in violation of the FMLA, an Ohio disability discrimination law, and Ohio public policy. Plaintiff alleges he was discharged after he informed defendant that he had been in close contact with a person who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that his doctor ordered him to self-quarantine for 14 days because he could not be tested for COVID-19. Plaintiff alleges that defendant “told him he was being discharged for reporting his proximity to a COVID-19 sufferer.”

Perrella v. Railroad Group, LLC, et al. (Burlington County, New Jersey)
Plaintiff, an “Accounts Payable/Assistant Controller,” alleges that defendants retaliated against her in violation of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. Plaintiff, who alleges she is a high risk individual for COVID-19 because she suffers from several auto-immune disorders, claims she was terminated after raising concerns about defendants’ plans to take precautions against COVID-19 and complaining that she was forced to work in violation of a state shutdown order.

May 1, 2020
Korloff v. Barclay Water Management, Inc., et al. (Monmouth County New Jersey)
Plaintiff, a “Safe Delivery Specialist,” brings claims including disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, retaliation, and wrongful termination. He alleges that he suffered from a compromised immune system and his doctor provided a note that he should avoid working in the field, but that defendants refused to accommodate him. Plaintiff alleges that when his wife tested positive for COVID-19, he refused to attend work per his doctor’s orders and for the “health, safety, and welfare” of his coworkers. Plaintiff alleges he was laid off as a result and was told he “was not covered for paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

Lange v. Progressive Broadcasting Systems Inc. dba WFRN Radio (Elkhart County, Indiana)
Plaintiff, a 22-year sales representative for a Christian radio station, alleges wrongful termination in violation of public policy. Plaintiff alleges the defendant’s operations are “non-essential,” and that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and an order from Indiana’s governor, she informed her employer of her intention to work from home. Plaintiff claims that in response, her work was transferred “to a colleague who intended to disobey the governor’s stay at home order,” and she was terminated.

April 30, 2020
Rivera v. Hovione, LLC, et al. (Burlington County, New Jersey)
Plaintiff, a Mechanical Technician with a pharmaceutical company, alleges wrongful termination, retaliation, and violation of New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. Plaintiff alleges he was terminated as a result of his complaints about a lack of PPE and proper prevention and screening for COVID-19.

Jaramillo v. Martin Hicks, et al. (Cibola County, New Mexico)
Plaintiff, the City Manager for the City of Grants, New Mexico, alleges that defendants violated the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act. Plaintiff claims that the Mayor of the City ordered her to keep a City-owned golf course open in violation of a public health order put in place as a result of COVID-19. Plaintiff alleges that when she protested and refused, she was terminated.

Kristy v. Costco Wholesale Corporation, et al. (Santa Clara County, California)
Plaintiff, a meat cutter, brings numerous causes of action including disability discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination/constructive discharge, infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and defamation. He alleges that his coworkers and supervisors called him names and falsely accused him of having contracted COVID-19, and refused to work with him. Plaintiff alleges that the behavior was so severe that he was constructively terminated.

April 24, 2020
Dozier v. City of Jasper (Northern District of Alabama)
Plaintiff, a laborer with the City of Jasper’s Parks and Recreation Department, brings a claim for interference with the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act. Plaintiff alleges that she requested 12 weeks of leave to care for her children, whose schools were closed as a result of COVID-19, but the City refused her request and terminated her employment.

April 23, 2020
Reggio v. Tekin & Associates, LLC (County of Dallas, Texas)
Plaintiff alleges wrongful termination in violation of the public policy of the State of Texas. Plaintiff, who lives in Dallas County but works in Collin County, alleges she was terminated after she refused to violate a Dallas County shelter-in-place order that purportedly made it unlawful for her to travel to work in another county.

April 22, 2020
Milanes v. Alaris Health, LLC (Hudson County, New Jersey)
Plaintiff, a nurse, alleges retaliation and whistleblower claims under New Jersey law, as well as battery and fraud, against her former employer, a long-term care facility. Plaintiff, who contracted COVID-19 while working at the defendant nursing home facility, asserts that she was terminated after notifying local public health authorities of the defendant’s attempts to cover-up the spread of COVID-19 at the facility, as well as defendant’s failure to provide PPE to the staff.

Chapman v. Alaris Health, LLC (Hudson County, New Jersey)
A companion case to Milanes, Plaintiff, a nurses’ assistant, alleges that she was wrongfully discharged in violation of public policy, and in violation of state whistleblower law. Plaintiff alleges that despite testing positive for COVID-19, defendant terminated her for not returning to work.

Frunzi v. MEI Group (Tarrant County, Texas)
Plaintiff alleges that his termination amounted to disability, age, and race discrimination, among other forms of discrimination, pursuant to the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. Plaintiff states that he has a preexisting lung condition, of which the defendant employer was aware, and requested an accommodation in the form of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiff alleges that he gave his employer a doctor’s note stating that he was at a heightened risk for COVID-19 because of his lung condition, and that the defendant terminated him the next day.

April 21, 2020
Woolslayer v. Driscoll (Western District of Pennsylvania)
Plaintiff alleges retaliation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the President of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleges that he was terminated in retaliation for informing other employees of the University where he worked that a colleague’s family member had been infected with COVID-19.

Benavides v. Board of Regents of the University of Michigan, et al. (Washtenaw County, Michigan)
Plaintiff asserts disability discrimination claim under Michigan law. Plaintiff alleges that due to her possible infection with COVID-19, her supervisor and HR at the hospital where she worked advised her to not come to work until she received her COVID-19 test results. Plaintiff claims that despite this advice, after calling in sick for several days, the hospital terminated her for a “continued pattern of unscheduled absences.”

April 17, 2020
Andrews v. Andrews Hydra Platforms, Inc. (County of York, South Carolina)
Plaintiff alleges a violation of the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)) and South Carolina Payment of Wages Act. Plaintiff alleges that she was terminated for seeking paid leave under the new federal law in order to take care of her children, whose school had been closed due to the pandemic.

April 16, 2020
Sizemore-Harvey v. Senior Haven LLC (Multnomah County, Oregon)
Plaintiff alleges state law whistleblower and sick leave retaliation claims against her former employer, an assisted living facility. Plaintiff claims she was terminated in violation of state law after she reported to defendants that she believed it was in violation state and federal safety rules by continuing to encourage elderly patients to continue group activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and after she exercised her right to take available sick leave to self-quarantine.

April 14, 2020
Hartsuch v. Howard Young Medical Center & Jennie Larsen (Western District of Wisconsin) (Amended)
Plaintiff, a physician employed by a staffing agency and assigned at the defendant medical center, reportedly complained in March 2020 about policies of the medical center, regarding Particulate Respirator N95 facemasks and regarding the discharge of COVID-19 patients unable to self-isolate. He also reportedly communicated with the medical center about, among other things, the supply of N95 facemasks. Plaintiff claims that he was thereafter removed from the schedule and then discharged. Plaintiff alleges that defendants violated public policy and violated Wis. Stat. § 230.83, and that the individual defendant defamed him.

Thomas v. Franciscan Alliance, Inc. (Northern District of Illinois)
Plaintiff, an emergency room nurse who suffers from asthma and is immuno-suppressed, alleges she was fired in violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act and the FMLA, in part due to having taken intermittent FMLA leave in the past. Plaintiff alleges she was assigned to a room that lacked negative air pressure, and was thus especially dangerous due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plaintiff alleges that she requested safety precautions and PPE, but was subsequently fired.

April 13, 2020
Norris v. Schoppenhorst-Underwood & Brooks Funeral Home, LLC (Bullitt Circuit Court, Kentucky)
Plaintiff, the president of a funeral home, alleges she was terminated for attempting to comply with a public mandate intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Plaintiff discussed with staff how to safely conduct funeral services and alleges that the owner of the funeral home terminated her employment after telling her that he was not going to limit the size of gatherings at funerals or implement more frequent cleaning and disinfecting.

April 9, 2020
Lynch v. Delisa Demolition (State of New Jersey, Monmouth Superior Court)
Plaintiff alleges that defendants wrongly terminated his employment in violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A 10:5-1, et seq., where plaintiff was purportedly separated March 31, 2020, “two days before he was scheduled to return to work from a physician-ordered and government-mandated quarantine for symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus.” Plaintiff claims wrongful discrimination based handicap and retaliation.

Michael Manwell v. Rochester Gear, Inc. (Eastern District of Michigan)
Plaintiff asserting wrongful termination where plaintiff was allegedly sent home after demonstrating symptoms possibly related to COVID-19. Plaintiff claims that by separating him on March 23, 2020, defendant violated the FMLA and public policy.

April 8, 2020
King v. Trader Joe’s East, Inc. (Jefferson Circuit Court, Kentucky)
Plaintiff alleges wrongful termination in violation of Kentucky public policy and various Kentucky statutes. Plaintiff alleges he was terminated because he complained about workplace safety regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and made numerous requests to Trader Joe’s to implement safety measures in accordance with the Kentucky governor’s executive orders and CDC guidance.

April 7, 2020
Dent v. PruittHealth (State of South Carolina, County of Bamberg, Court of County Pleas)
Plaintiff, an LPN Charge Nurse whose employment purportedly ended on March 13, 2020, alleges that defendant violated S.C. Code Ann. Section 44-4-530(E) [“An employer may not fire, demote, or otherwise discriminate against an employee complying with an isolation or quarantine order…”] and “other mandates of public policy relating to the standard of nursing care in nursing home facilities.” Plaintiff was allegedly told to be off for 14 days after she reported possible exposure to a relative who had in turn possibly been exposed to COVID-19, and alleges she was then terminated.

April 3, 2020
Hanson v. Marshall County (Marshall County Circuit Court)
Plaintiff alleges wrongful discharge in violation of Kentucky public policy, and in violation of a Kentucky whistleblower law. Plaintiff alleges she was terminated from her 911 dispatch position for voicing concerns to her supervisor about the lack of protective measures to protect employees from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

April 2, 2020
Webster v. Tower Construction Management LLC (Leon County Circuit Court)
Plaintiff alleges that she was wrongfully terminated in violation of Florida’s Whistleblower Act. Plaintiff claims that she engaged in allegedly protected whistleblower activity when she requested a remote work accommodation in light of her and her daughter’s stated health conditions and concern for COVID-19 exposure, and that she was terminated as a result.

Guaypatin v. Olshan Realty LLC (Southern District of New York)
Plaintiff, a former assistant property manager, alleges violations under New York and federal law in connection with her termination. Plaintiff asserts that her employer claimed she was being terminated because her employer believed she had been potentially been exposed to COVID-19 through her daughter’s school. The plaintiff alleges her termination was pretext for national origin discrimination (Ecuadorian) and harassment in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. Plaintiff also alleges that her employer deprived her of wages in violation of the New York Labor Code and the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying her as exempt from overtime.

March 27, 2020
Robbie Payne and Erica Shaw v. Radio Communications Systems Inc. dba RCS Communications (Jefferson County Circuit Court)
Plaintiffs, a former warehouse manager and a former administrative assistant, allege that they were wrongfully terminated in violation of Kentucky public policy. Plaintiffs claim they were terminated because they raised health and safety concerns related to their employer’s obligations to mitigate COVID-19 exposure under the “general duties” provision of Kentucky’s Occupational Safety and Health Act. 

Subscribe

Do you want to receive more valuable insights directly in your inbox? Visit our subscription center and let us know what you're interested in learning more about.

View Subscription Center
Trending Connect
We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking any link on this page you are giving your consent for us to use cookies.