What Are Your Rights? Employee Safety During Phase Two Reopening

With many of New York State’s regions now entering a phased reopening, how will employers protect their employees? What are the requirements and what recourse do employees have if they don’t feel safe? Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP helps explain on CBS6.

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Man: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: With many of New York State’s regions now entering a phased reopening, how will employers protect their employees? What are the requirements and what recourse do employees have if they don’t feel safe? I spoke with managing partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti earlier today to find out how all of this affects you. Phase two officially starts today for the Capitol Region, what does that mean for all of us?

Paul: What it does mean is that I’m back in my office. Offices like law firms and accounting firms and financial businesses, you know, we’re back. And today was day one, we’re not back in full force but we’re coming back incrementally. I think also the retailers are gonna have an expanded footprint. People are gonna be able to go out and do a little more of that. And so as long as the metrics keep being met that the governor set before, we’re just getting back to some level of normalcy here in this setting, and I know the Capitol Region, just on the ride over today from my house here, it just felt different, it felt better.

Interviewer: Absolutely. So at this time when we’re talking about offices reopening, you know, phase two, what is the employer’s responsibility in terms of keeping employees safe?

Paul: So, you know, those rules, the 6-foot rule is real, right? So you gotta keep people separated and so that was a whole thing. We came here and we were just kind of mapping things out, measuring things. Face mask while you are standing was our general rule. If you’re standing and walking, you have a face mask. So we had to supply all kinds of PPE, personal protection equipment for folks. Also, we are doing a thing in the morning where there’s testing, you’re getting a text message and you take your temperature and if it’s below 100.4, I think is the official, we’re saying 100, then you can come in. If you answer no to those other questions, right? Anybody been around you for 14 days, are you tested positive, are you feeling a certain way? So you need to do these pre-screening questions before you enter the building. And then if you feel something throughout the day, we react to that also.

Interviewer: What should a person do, maybe one of our viewers watching today, if they feel like their employer is not taking appropriate steps to keep them safe or, you know, not necessarily following CDC guidelines?

Paul: You know, I think a gentle nudge is probably a good thing, but if you’re not in an employment situation where a gentle nudge is going to be well received, you’ve got the New York State Department of Labor, they not only have a sort of a hotline but they’ve also got information that you can share anonymously with your employer to say, “Hey, you know, this is sort of the rules and you need to catch up and do so pretty quickly, you’re gonna find yourself on the wrong end of a summons from the Department of Labor.”

Interviewer: All right. Well, if you’d like to learn more about your rights, head to our website under the community tab, just click on What Are Your Rights for more information.

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