25 Investigates: Workers across multiple industries say employers aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously enough

Over the last two weeks we’ve been hearing from people who are concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus on the job. While many are able to work from home, not everyone has that option. Those employees face many challenges and have limited options available to them.

25 Investigates has received dozens of calls and emails from people working in all types of professions that are not essential to public health or safety. Those professions vary from retail to manufacturing to construction to education to call-centers to insurance to billing and more.

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The latest recommendation from the federal government is to not gather in groups of more than 10 people and to try and stay six feet apart.

One emailer told 25 Investigates that’s not happening at the office building where she works in metro west. The woman who asked us not to use her name for fear of getting in trouble wrote the following:

“Employees are still expected to work on-site. They are still serving food and people can still eat inside! Meetings are happening in groups with over 25 people. This business could be conducted remotely but managers are not taking this seriously.”

In her case, she says she could work from home if she was allowed to, but there are other jobs where that option does not exist.

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Denise Murphy is a Boston-based labor attorney and the president-elect of the Massachusetts Bar Association. She spoke with Boston 25 News and, when asked what options exist for employees in similar situations, had this to say:

“Employees who feel like they are not safe going into their work environment have the option, and it definitely sounds like it’s a drastic measure, but they do have the option of quitting the job because they feel unsafe,” she said. “And in that situation, I think that they could still apply for unemployment compensation and say that the reason is, ‘I can’t go to work, it’s an unsafe environment.”

If someone is concerned about going to work, they should communicate that with their employer first before taking any drastic measures.

Unfortunately, this is another harsh reality of this global health crisis. Businesses are trying to stay afloat and serve customers, while at the same time employers need to look out for themselves and their families.