PORTLAND, Ore. — An employment law firm is offering people free legal information to help during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Many people are looking for legal advice… especially when it comes to employment rights,” said Dan Kalish, employment lawyer and managing partner at HKM Employment Attorneys. “We saw some other employers doing some things for free for people like deliveries and reduced charges and we thought, what can we do?”
HKM Employment Attorneys launched an online resource center with answers to frequently asked questions. They also set up a hotline to call: 503-506-6263. People in Washington can access the firm’s Seattle office resource center.
“People can call or email,” said Kalish. “Someone will get back to them within 24 hours.”
Kalish said a lot of people are asking if they have the right to know if their co-workers get infected with COVID-19.
“Your employer cannot say who the specific person who tested positive is,” said Kalish. “Should they say that somebody has tested positive? Without question.”
Kalish noted that employers are not required to do so by law, but said hiding that information could subject them to a negligence claim down the line if other employees get sick.
Another common question Kalish said people are asking is if they have to go to work right now.
"If it's a non-essential business, no. You physically cannot go into work,” said Kalish. “It's sort of an order by Governor Brown.”
Kalish said even if your job is considered essential, you still have some options.
“You could be immunocompromised and therefore ask for a reasonable accommodation as part of a disability,” said Kalish. He added that you should also explore updated federal options for family and medical leave if you're sick or have childcare needs.
“We're trying to encourage everyone who has been terminated, furloughed, or has had their hours reduced to apply for unemployment,” said Kalish. “They'll often apply in all three of those circumstances.”
Kalish said this is new territory and it might be a while before some businesses are truly defined as essential or not.
“I would just encourage people to hang in there and really to just take advantage of the resources out there,” he said.