Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) Has Anti-Retaliation Measures
Anti-Retaliation for COVID-19 is something employers should be aware of. The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for OSHA regarding COVID-19 went into effect near the end of June 2021. The ETS only applied to the healthcare sector.
The ETS established guidance that protected unvaccinated and at-risk workers. In addition, it encouraged vaccination. However, the ETS also contained important provisions for anti-retaliation.
Many workers have worried about dismissal for exercising their rights during the pandemic. What rights are they concerned about?
- Disclosing a positive COVID-19 test
- Informing employers they have covid symptoms
- Having to quarantine after testing positive
- Notifying an employer about workplace conditions such as insufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or failures to clean or properly ventilate areas
Employees have feared losing their jobs over the above. However, the ETS protects employees from retaliation for disclosing any of the above factors.
Why Informing Employees about Anti-Retaliation Helps Employers
If you have employees who hide the fact they tested positive, it puts other workers at risk. Also, employees should feel free to advise you about hazardous conditions so you can correct them. For example, if you did not know that another worker was refusing PPE or not wearing PPE correctly, then you could not correct the situation.
Remedies Employees Have Under the Anti-Retaliation Provision
As an employer, it is vital to realize that remedies exist regarding the ETS anti-retaliation provision:
- OSHA has up to six months from the date of the alleged retaliation to issue a citation
- Remedies may include back-pay and reinstatement
- OSHA can address the retaliation directly and comparatively quickly through citation instead of using litigation