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Two news stories involving the intersection between the COVID-19 pandemic and employment law have been recently reported. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth has previously discussed both circumstances found in these recent news stories. Issue 1: Your employer can fire you for not being vaccinated. Issue 2: Exaggerating illness can lead to termination and possible criminal charges. It was reported on Thursday that CNN had fired three employees for coming in to work at one of the company's offices while unvaccinated. The news came to light when a memo was sent to company employees by CNN President Jeff Zucker. The memo specified that company policy states that vaccines are mandatory if an employee could come into contact with another employee and that there is a zero-tolerance policy on the issue. CNN does not require proof of vaccination for its workers yet, so it was unclear how the fired employees were determined to be unvaccinated. See the news article here. It was reported on Wednesday that a firefighter for the city of Dallas was charged with felony theft for requesting and receiving paid time off for falsely claiming to have tested positive for the coronavirus. In March, the accused firefighter reported to his work that his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus. His work accepted his report, providing him paid time off. After a week, the firefighter again called the department and reported his daughter had just tested positive and was granted an extra week of paid time off. Then, two days prior to his expected return, he reported that he himself had tested positive. He was granted another week of leave. In total, the firefighter was granted over $12,000 in paid leave. After his return, the firefighter was asked for documentation of the positive coronavirus tests for him and his family. Unable to produce them, he admitted to making the entire episode up. According to bank records, at least part of his paid leave was spent on vacation. See the news article here. Employment law protects workers from employer misdeeds, including wage and hour violations, and from discrimination based on protected classes. At this time, vaccination status is not considered a protected class, so if your employer demands proof of vaccination as a condition for your employment, they have the legal right to terminate you if you cannot meet that demand. If you have questions about employment law or believe yourself to be the victim of workplace discrimination or pay violations, call the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth today at 888-517-9888 for a free legal consultation.
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