Q: Can I lose my unemployment benefits refusing a job while nyc (downstate) is on pause and still on lockdown?
My current job furloughed me due to the covid-19 outbreak and at present we are still under the lockdown/pause order. My current job offered me my job back but with the order still in place and we have a very small windowless work shop with up to 10 people in the office at a time (3 in my current work space less then 6 feet apart) I feel unsafe to return to work until the order as been lifted and this is more under control. I have some medcial issues that also make me vurnable and pron to illnesses. As stated I plan to return once this over but at present i do not feel safe. Would I lose my unemployment benefits denying this offer durning the pandemic.
A: Is everyone provided PPE and wearing it and the workplace redesigned for social distancing? And testing in place? Look at the EEOC and OSHA websites which define safe workplaces and the duty of employers to provide one. Then report for work and take photos if not against company policy or take notes of all the apparent safety issues. Then go to your doctor or zoom conference with the doc and show them what you found and ask the doctor to write you a note with all your health issues and what type of accommodation you would need to work safely. Then forward the doctor's note to your workplace and maybe to OSHA for a safety complaint. Then keep all the above to honestly respond to the DOL if your employer challenges your unemployment. No one can guarantee you win but you will probably have done everything possible to prevail. Good luck. Thousands like you and these issues may be litigated for years to come. You can also file NYS DHR or EEOC complaints or charges if they fire you but best to retain an employment lawyer before those filings.
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