Employers Facing Fines For Failing To Protect Workers From Covid-19

BY: Koszdin | Monday, October 12, 2020.

Workplace injuries and illnesses are not uncommon in and around Los Angeles. However, any worker who sustains an on-the-job injury or illness should be able to rely on workers’ compensation coverage in California to help with their expenses. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly complicated the relationship between workers and employers in California. This includes understanding the responsibilities of employers when it comes to protecting their employees from contracting the coronavirus. Here, we want to discuss instances of employers facing fines for failing to protect workers.

What Happened At These Worksites?

In late September, we learned that Cal/OSHA cited five grocery stores throughout Southern California for failing to protect their employees from COVID-19. The grocery stores were cited for numerous health and safety violations, including some classified as “serious.” The proposed penalties for these violations ranged from $13,500 to $26,560.

“Grocery retail workers are on the front lines and face a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19,” says Cal/OSHA Chief Doug Parker. “Employers in this industry must investigate possible causes of employee illness and put in place the necessary measures to protect their staff.”

The grocery stores in question were cited for failing to protect workers from exposure to the virus because they had not updated their workplace safety plans to properly address COVID-19-related hazards. One of the grocery stores was cited for allowing too many customers into the store at once, which prevented workers from maintaining proper social distancing.

Governor Newsom Signed A New Workers’ Compensation Law

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Newsom signed SB 1159 into law. This law specifically targets employers who allow for unsafe working conditions while the pandemic is ongoing. The law creates a presumption that an employee’s COVID-19 illness or death arose out of an in the course and scope of their employment if they were employed at a worksite that experienced a virus outbreak.

Under the law, an outbreak exists if, within a 14-day window:

  • Four or more employees test positive at a specific site of employment with 100 employees or less, or
  • 4% of all employees test positive at a specific worksite that has more than 100 employees.

In order to help determine if an outbreak has occurred, California now requires employers that have five or more workers to report to their workers’ compensation claims administrator, within three business days, when it knows or should reasonably have known that the employee tested positive for the virus. Failing to do so could result in a $10,000 fine to the employer.

Contact Our Team For A Free Consultation

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an on-the-job injury or illness, you should be entitled to compensation for your injuries. At Koszdin, Fields & Sherry, our Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyers are standing by to help any person who is struggling to receive the benefits they are entitled to. Whether you have become ill with COVID-19 or sustained some other type of injury, our team is ready to help you stand up to aggressive insurance carriers or employers. You can reach out to us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling 800-747-3447.

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