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When Is Fear a Protected Reason for Not Coming to Work?

May 26, 2020, SHRM

Carolyn Rashby spoke with SHRM about the decisions companies will have to make when employees are fearful of entering the office due to COVID-19 concerns. Ms. Rashby says after decisions about who can and can't work remotely are made and communicated, disciplining or firing employees who refuse to come in out of a generalized fear likely is permissible in many circumstances. She mentioned  that employees might have rights under the National Labor Relations Act's "protected concerted activity" protections for employees with respect to the terms and conditions of their work. She notes that whether an employer can be held liable for an employee's exposure to the coronavirus in the workplace is uncertain.

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