July 31, 2020
It might feel like years, but it’s only been about four months since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency in the United States. Like with the virus, we’ve watched the COVID-19 litigation landscape evolve. What’s clear is COVID-19 discrimination is a hotbed for litigation. Below are a few of the PPE and discrimination cases we’re watching.
King v. Trader Joe’s
A Kentucky Trader Joe’s employee alleges he was fired after posting on a private social media page that the grocery chain was prohibiting workers from wearing gloves during the coronavirus pandemic. The plaintiff alleges Trader Joe’s explicitly informed workers that they could only wear gloves at work if they had a physician’s letter and filed Americans with Disabilities Act paperwork. The former employee also alleges that a Trader Joe’s manager confronted him with screenshots of the social media posts and repeatedly asked him to voluntarily resign. After refusing the request, the plaintiff claims one week later he was improperly fired. Find out more about the Trader Joe’s employee lawsuit here.
Evans v. Walmart
Walmart is presently defending a wrongful death lawsuit after one of its Chicago employees died after contracting the coronavirus. The PR for Evans Estate claims that Walmart failed to provide its employees with gloves, masks, and other PPE. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Walmart is aware that some workers are displaying virus symptoms but doesn’t send them home. Learn more about this lawsuit here.
Dent v. Pruitt Health
Bamberg, South Carolina - On a more local front, a healthcare worker claims that she was exposed to COVID-19 and while on a 14 day quarantine her employer took punitive actions against her affecting her employment which violated statute (an employer may not fire, demote, or otherwise discriminate against an employee complying with an isolation or quarantine order.” S.C. Code Ann. § 44-4-530(E)). A copy of the complaint can be found here.
Mackie v. Coconut Joe’s
A recent complaint filed in South Carolina federal court alleges Coconut Joe’s in Isle of Palms, SC violated the Families First Coronavirus Response Act — which bars employers from firing workers who miss work for reasons related to COVID-19. The Plaintiff has moved to assert class status and the restaurant is also accused of shortchanging employees on wages. Learn about the Mackie case covered here.
What can you do to help mitigation COVID-19 litigation risk? Check out our article listing nine steps to mitigating risk. If you have questions or need assistance, please reach out to David Black. We stand ready to serve.