Steven Mitchell Sack Discusses the Balance between Employees’ Rights and Workplace Safety as Companies Open up Again

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — With COVID-19 infection rates decreasing and more people getting vaccinated, companies are beginning to reopen their offices and bring their employees back in. But could an employee refuse to return to the office and decide to work remotely instead? Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” says the answer is not that simple when considering such factors as employee classification, state employment laws and what their employment contract says.

“If your company deems you to be an ‘essential’ worker, you must report to the office,” Mr. Sack says. “On the other hand, your employer must be sure that their workers are properly classified as essential, or else they will face serious fines. If you don’t believe that your job functions define you as an essential worker, please consult with an employment attorney.”

If the employee is concerned about contracting the virus at work, Mr. Sack says, that should be addressed with their supervisor immediately. “Anyone who has a compromised immune system may be excused from working in person,” he says. “If you tell your boss that you don’t want to come in because you are afraid of getting sick, that may not be a valid excuse.”

Mr. Sack says some workers may try to defy the workplace edict, which might not be wise. “Before refusing to come into work, they should check the state’s employment laws to see what their rights are,” he says. “Some states, such as New York, are at-will states. That means, if you refuse to show up for work, you can be fired immediately. The only exception is if the employee belongs to a union; then they have protections that preclude them from termination.”

In the event the employee is terminated, Mr. Sack emphasizes that every firing is negotiable. “See if you can get an extension on health coverage, severance pay and retention of benefits, as well as cashing in unused sick and vacation days, pension plans, 401(k)s and unpaid commissions,” he says.

Mr. Sack said, while employees may be responsible to come into work, their employers should be sure that all infection control protocols are put in place. “Workplace safety is key,” he says. “It is the company’s responsibility to protect their workers from becoming seriously ill. That means setting up desks six feet away, making sure masks are worn — especially in open workspaces — and there is an abundant supply of hand sanitizer. It is important to keep their employees safe during these trying times.”

For more information, call (917) 371-8000 or visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.

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About Steven Mitchell Sack

Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer®,” has been enforcing workplace rights of employees, executives, and sales representatives for more than 39 years. He is a practicing attorney concentrating in employment law, as well as an author of 19 books, a lecturer and syndicated radio talk show host. Together with attorney Scott A. Lucas, they obtained a $6.2 million jury verdict in 2015 on behalf of three pregnant employees, as well as a favorable Court of Appeals decision for a group of waiters who were denied their fair share of tips that were held back by a caterer. For more information, visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.

 

Steven Mitchell Sack Comments on NYS Federal Judge’s Decision to Strike Down U.S. Labor Department’s Restrictions on Workers Taking COVID-19 Related Leave

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” says a U.S. District Court judge’s decision to strike down the U.S. Department of Labor’s stringent requirements as to who is eligible for coronavirus-related leave will give workers the ability to take off from work when needed.

On August 3, Paul Oetken, Justice, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ruled that the Labor Department was overly strict in its eligibility requirements under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. For example, the agency cannot prevent workers from taking leave if there is no work for them to perform. Also, the DOL was partially blocked from limiting “intermittent” leave and requiring employees to give a full description as to why they are requesting time off for work.

“This is a definite win for workers who may need to take leave to take care of themselves or a loved one,” Mr. Sack says. “No one should have to explain themselves or jump through hoops if they need a few days off. If you believe you were unfairly denied time off under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, please consult an employment law attorney.”

For more information, call (917) 371-8000 or visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.

 

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About Steven Mitchell Sack

Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer®,” has been enforcing workplace rights of employees, executives, and sales representatives for 37 years. He is a practicing attorney concentrating in employment law, as well as an author of 19 books, a lecturer and syndicated radio talk show host. Together with attorney Scott A. Lucas, they obtained a $6.2 million injury verdict in 2015 on behalf of three pregnant employees, as well as a favorable Court of Appeals decision for a group of waiters who were denied their fair share of tips that were held back by a caterer. For more information, visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.

Steven Mitchell Sack Comments on Employees’ Rights to Refuse to Wear a Face Mask

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — In New York, many lockdown restrictions have been lifted, allowing businesses to reopen. One of the conditions, however, is that employees are required to wear face masks at work if social distancing among co-workers is not possible. But what if an employee returns to work but refuses to wear a face covering? Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” says wearing a mask should be part of a worker’s routine when they go back to work.

“This isn’t an employee rights issue, it’s a health and safety issue,” Mr. Sack says. “Employees must prove that they cannot wear a mask because of religious reasons or medical issues that may affect their breathing. If someone returns to the workplace and refuses to wear a mask without a legal reason, then the worker may potentially face termination.”

Mr. Sack says he understands that companies want to keep their employees safe, but he added that workers who do not wear protective face coverings due to religious or health protections should not be subject to harassment by supervisors or other employees. “Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, co-workers or managers cannot single out an employee based on their religious beliefs or existing medical conditions,” he says. “If you believe you are facing harassment or discrimination as a result, consult an employment law attorney immediately.”

For more information, call (917) 371-8000 or visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.

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About Steven Mitchell Sack

Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer®,” has been enforcing workplace rights of employees, executives, and sales representatives for more than 39 years. He is a practicing attorney concentrating in employment law, as well as an author of 19 books, a lecturer and syndicated radio talk show host. Together with attorney Scott A. Lucas, they obtained a $6.2 million injury verdict in 2015 on behalf of three pregnant employees, as well as a favorable Court of Appeals decision for a group of waiters who were denied their fair share of tips that were withheld by a caterer. For more information, visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.

Steven Mitchell Sack Interviewed by Forbes on the Latest Employment Law Trends

Topics Included Age Discrimination Law Updates, Negotiating Job Termination Packages

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” was recently interviewed for two separate articles on employment law by Forbes, a major business publication.

The first article focused on whether the United States would update its age discrimination laws to match those of The Equality Act in the United Kingdom, which permits younger workers to sue employers for age discrimination. According to attorney Sack, “While it’s a great question in theory, an expanded law will never happen because it’s illogical and impractical in practice. Protecting a 28-year-old from age discrimination is silly. It’s hard enough to prove it when you have a 60-year-old, unless you have substantial proof.”

Mr. Sack was interviewed for a second article with Forbes on knowing your rights when you are terminated from a job and effective strategies to negotiate enhanced severance packages. In the article “Why Every Employment Termination Is Negotiable: 33 Dos and Dont’s To Get What You Deserve,” written by Sheila Callaham, attorney Sack advised those looking to take a job termination package not to accept the first offer from an employer. “The first thing to remember is that every firing is negotiable, so long as no misconduct is involved,” Mr. Sack said. He also stated that anything can be negotiated, from bonuses to health benefits to use of the company car. Most importantly, according to Sack, if you are fired unexpectedly, you should remember the first three tips: never lose your temper, negotiate everything you can instead of accepting the employer’s initial offer and continue to draw a salary from the company for as long as possible. The entire article can be viewed by clicking here.

For more information, call (917) 371-8000 or visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.

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About Steven Mitchell Sack

Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer®,” has been enforcing workplace rights of employees, executives, and sales representatives for more than 39 years. He is a practicing attorney concentrating in employment law, as well as an author of 19 books, a lecturer and syndicated radio talk show host. Together with attorney Scott A. Lucas, they obtained a $6.2 million injury verdict in 2015 on behalf of three pregnant employees, as well as a favorable Court of Appeals decision for a group of waiters who were denied their fair share of tips that were withheld by a caterer. For more information, visit www.theemployeeslawyer.com.