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Multiple Issues - Covid - Human Resources

Discussion in 'Employment, Labor, Work Issues' started by William Schott, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. William Schott

    William Schott Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    Tennessee
    I know Covid has caused chaos for everyone and with each state handling things in their own way it just adds to the confusion. I've been unable to find resources for employees instead of employers, and I'm just trying to find out what to do, if anything, about the issues I've noticed.

    1 - My HR has made a mess of unemployment for many of our staff during the layoffs, some even being unable to claim unemployment because of it. (Incorrect dates, usernames, passwords, no letters being sent out with required information, etc.)

    2- Many employees have been forced to return to work, under threat of termination, to shifts they did not work before and positions they were not in before the layoffs.

    3- Most of our PTO and UTO was used up to offset the cost of the 2/3 pay they offered at the start of the layoffs, which then became unemployment, so now upon returning we have little or no time off available.

    4- The steps the company is taking to safeguard against Covid is incredibly lax. They're taking temperatures at the door, but letting people in with 102 temps because they're sitting in the sun while they wait to be checked.
    They aren't enforcing social distancing. They aren't enforcing proper PPE. They aren't cleaning commonly used surfaces.
    And any absence accrues attendance points, even with a doctors note. Multiple days in a row will only count as 1 with a doctors note, but that first point is a guarantee, and its keeping people from going to get checked.

    Is any of this illegal? Is there some government agency I should be reporting any of this to?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    The CDC issued recommendations and guidelines.

    State and local governments issued alerts, warnings, edicts whose legality has been challenged and remain suspect at best.

    If you dislike your employer's policies or in actions, you are free to seek employment elsewhere.

    Today it was revealed that WHO is unsure if their recommendations were even based in science as a WHO physician "walked back" her previous premonitions, predictions, prognostications.

    When the after action report is issued regarding the ALLEGED pandemic, I suspect it'll be reminiscent of the famous Chicken Little's fear of the sky falling.
     
  3. William Schott

    William Schott Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The only thing you touched on was the coronavirus guidelines. Which while marginally informative seemed more like condescending political talk and the typical less-than-helpful advice I'd expect of a child... "Seek employment elsewhere."

    What's the point in having a forum on the legality of workplace behavior and policies if that is the response? In that case, ALL answers to questions of legality could be summed up as "find a different job."

    Im asking if any of this is illegal, if the answer is "No" then you can say so without the condescension. Thanks.
     
  4. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Speaking as one in HR, I'd like to point out that rules, regulations and policies are changing on a dime and HR departments all over are struggling to keep up. The procedure you used last week is wrong this week, and HR is expected to someone learn it all by osmosis. The government relaxes certain restrictions but then doesn't issue any guidance on how to implement the new rules. You do (a) if (b); you do (c) if (d) and you do (e) if (f) but last week you were to do (g, h and i) no matter what.

    I'll give you a specific example. The government relaxed some restrictions to make it easier for an employee to take a retirement plan distribution. However, the distribution still required a notarized signature. Because of the lockdown, no one could get a notary's stamp. Do you know how long it took for the government to agree to accept an electronic notarization? Two freaking months. In the meantime, people are calling and yelling at us because we don't have an answer as to when they'll get their distribution. It's the IRS holding up the works, not us; go yell at them.

    For their part, employee's don't read what they're told. My employer made an announcement today of an upcoming offer. It expressly stated that employees should not call my office to see if they're eligible; that my office knew nothing that was not in the announcement and people who were eligible would be notified directly. Do you know how long it took for us to get the first question about individual eligibility? Nine minutes.

    No, it is not illegal to make mistakes in attempting to learn new procedures.

    No, it is not illegal to change people's shifts or positions (unless the new position requires a license or certificate that the employee does not have).

    No, it is not illegal to require employees to use their PTO time.

    4;) What social distancing or PPE is required is very much an issue of state and local law and company policy but nothing is stopping you from cleaning your own surfaces, providing your own PPE or keeping your own distances. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    5.) No, it is not illegal to have points for absences, even with doctor's notes, unless FMLA is involved. I don't think it's a particularly good idea in the circumstances, but it is not illegal.

    Does it sound like things are being managed well? No, frankly, it doesn't. It certainly isn't the way I'd manage things if I were in charge, and yes, I get why you're upset and I don't blame you. But at the same time you're not the one who's having to read, understand, learn and implement new policies and procedures every week. I am, and it's not a lot of fun, and it's a heck of a lot of pressure, and the regular work has to get done as well.

    So how about you cut some folk some slack?
     
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  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    The answer is nobody knows. Seriously. The country is in crisis mode. People are doing what they have to do to survive. Employers are trying to keep people working without going out of business themselves. Mistakes are being made. People are being inconvenienced. Lots of tragedy. It's likely to be years and a ton of lawsuits before the courts figure this all out. In the end I can almost guarantee that nobody is going to get punished for employment errors legal or not.

    You're just going to have to hunker down and make the best of a bad situation.
     
  6. William Schott

    William Schott Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Now THAT is an answer I can respect.
    Thank you.

    And just an fyi, while I am extremely upset at some of the things my HR has done, not once have I taken it out on her, I don't do her job and don't know how to do her job.

    That being said, it seemed questionable at best that the employees should be the ones taking the brunt of the misfortune that the pandemic has caused. The company using up all of our PTO AND UTO leaves most of us in a situation that will ultimately lead to losing the job... We do have lives outside of work that require the occasional absence.

    But I digress. Thank you for the information and for sharing the first hand experience.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You can pay a lawyer and receive ACTUAL legal advice.
     
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  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You don't determine what I can post.
     
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  9. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    HR is employees too. Shame more people don't get that. Often they don't make the rules; they simply implement what the higher ups say.

    There is, by the way, a valid budgetary reason to require people to use their PTO. It's too complicated for me to try to explain in this kind of a forum and I don't work the financial side of things so while I understand it, I really can't explain it well. But because of financial crediting, it costs an employer less to have an employee on vacation, even if it's a paid vacation and you still have all your benefits in place. It's not being done to screw with you or because they don't understand that you have lives outside the office; it's a way of controlling the budget so that they can keep people working and not lay them off.
     
  10. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    This part I don't understand. In TN you should be able to file for unemployment with no assistance from your employer.

    Unless there is a contract of some sort that says differently your employer is free to change your shift as needed for business needs.

    Again this is a situation that deals with any policy or agreement that is in place with regards to PTO and UTO. It isn't unusual for employees to use paid time off before a layoff.

    The requirements of what they have to do vary widely. As far as allowing those with a measured 102 body temp the same thing happened yesterday when I had to go to the Dr.

    Unless those absences are due to a person actually having COVID or under Dr orders to be tested that isn't a violation. If they are due to COVID then eFMLA kicks in and you should contact the Department of Labor.
     

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